Long Term Lurker Says Thanks


Confused about dryer sheets
Dec 7, 2010
-Long time lurker here and at diehards, federalnewsradio, nitpinc, bobsfinancialwebsite, fatwallet, assetbuilder, financial-planning, irahelp, fairmark, analyzenow, center for retirement research, and planwithvoyant (IMO, the best financial calculator but overkill for me).

-my first financial recollection was a facination with the half dollar I earned by shoveling a neighbor's driveway (circa 1957). Their last name was King so I thought perhaps they were royality.

-enjoyed hunting the neighborhood for discarded bottles to return for the deposit.

-was always future oriented, a planner, a saver, willing to defer the immediate reward for something better in the future

-college educated (thank you Mom and Dad), entered the Peace Corps rather than law school--fatigued with formal education, very idealistic

-spent 2 years in tuberculosis control in what was a third world country--a life changing experience and then picked up my masters in public health.

-back then (pre Reagan) government was part of the solution not part of the problem so I found employment with an up and coming federal agency. Back then, for me, government and private sector
opportunities (salaries and benefits) were roughly equivalent but government was more stable.

-started as a GS-9, ended as a GS-15

-married, and when my first child was 5, I computed a projected cost of his (private) college education using the compound interest formula and my expensive hand held calculator, recording the annual results on a yellow legal pad. After some research, I figured 7 % was the right straight-line growth amount. I showed my wife the results and she fell through the floor with the immensity of the amount. A motivation to save. LBYM decades before I leaned what the acronym stands for. With my subsequent children, I could use a personal computer to do the projection, and I became smart enough to do these projections when they were in utero--no time to lose. BTW, 7% was a great guess...

-based on previous performance of real estate (a flawed approach that I had not yet learned), collected up to three single family houses to rent out. Sold them in the 1990s for tuition money. Many stories to tell here. Result? I made about as much as I could have with a passive
investment approach in mutual funds given the run up of financial assets of the 1980s. But you've got to do something...

-made a major financial decision in about 1984--should I stay with CSRS or switch to FERS? The tools to make this decision were primitive by today's standards but, even with the static models of the time, you had to work beyond the minimum retirement age for FERS to be advantageous. This wasn't for me. I was a FIRE seeker almost 2 decades before I saw the acronym for the first time.

-put my spare money in no-load mutual funds based on past performance and costs. Twentieth Century, Baron Assets, Weitz Value, TRowe Price Int, and few others. IRAs started and I jumped on
that. Always maxed out on the TSP. Allocated a small sum to chase an internet fund, early in the millenium, and lost most of it. It was then that I was ready to take more seriously the low cost index fund arguements.

-time passes, kids educated and married, grandkids appear (a whole new cost center I never modelled), wife wants a new and bigger! house, so when do I really retire? I do the (then) free Vanguard financial plan in 2006, mindful of it limitations, and learn I'm in a spend down
situation even with my increasingly precious CSRS defined benefit pension. I crunch numbers, hang out at Bob's site, hem and haw, lose a chunk of change along with everbody else in 2008-2009
(while maintaning my asset allocation and tax loss harvesting into Vanguard) until in 2010, my take home pension exceeds my after deduction take home paycheck which also exceeds my expected
retirement expenses.

-bingo, I'm now retired (four years after my original plan) with a pension as good as any and slightly more than 7 figures on the side, not including home equity (what's that worth anymore?).

-so what's left? Pay off the mortage, not so much for compelling financial reasons but to just put the issue behind me. Then comes estate planning and some fun, living in the present tense, while giving back along the rest of the the journey...

So, I don't seek much advice but instead just want to say thanks. I think the only idea I have to offer to others is for that small group considering using the Federal Voluntary Contributions program
program to parlay after tax money to a Roth IRA. There's lots of posts on that. My possibily unique suggestion is to use pay.gov to load your Voluntary Contributions account using a rewards credit card at no cost to you. I moved 6 figures doing this and earned the credit card rewards
for doing so. I don't know how long this maneuver will last.

Thanks to all. :greetings10:

Thanks for the very interesting detailed background.
Welcome. Sounds like you have a lot to share.
... my take home pension exceeds my after deduction take home paycheck which also exceeds my expected
retirement expenses.

-bingo, I'm now retired (four years after my original plan) with a pension as good as any...

Congratulations and well done!

Pensions are great and it surprised me how much I'm taking home without all of those paycheck deductions. Having a "guaranteed" income also gives peace of mind. Too bad they aren't offered to most of those coming behind us. I sure hope companies and organizations provide lots and lots of money management education with their TSP/401k/403b matches. I had way too many employees who were great at their jobs but horrible with their money.
Thanks for sharing your perspective and history. Congratulations on your retirement.
That's a great rundown. Welcome! Now that you are out of the shadows I know a lot of folks will benefit from your experience.
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