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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/12-month-summary-from-one-eree-15165342.aspx

Subject:  12-month summary from one ERee Date:  6/13/2001  2:49 PM
Author:  duggg Number:  42046 of 817507

I entered early retirement one year ago at age 37. As perhaps one of the least wealthy early retirees here, I thought I would summarize what I have learned and experienced these past twelve months.

Financials.

I retired with a net worth of approximately $175,000. I squandered $7000 of accrued vacation pay during my first six months with virtually no reduction in my standard of living. But in January of this year, I was dismayed to find my first annual SEPP from my IRA in the amount of only $9000, some $2000 less than the $11,000 I had budgeted before last fall's market demise. Neverthless, I have adapted and will continue to do so. Anything but going back to work! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Fast Food.

Slashing fast food from my budget saves me two hundred dollars a month. I thought for sure I would experience serious withdrawal. After all, who really knows what they put in a Big Mac? Fortunately that wasn't the case, and the fat has migrated nicely from my waistline to my wallet.

Income Taxes.

I am very pleased to report that I will owe no federal or state taxes this year. It's especially satisfying in that the bulk of my income is from tax-deferred 401(k) savings. I deferred at 28% and am paying at 0%. Not a bad deal, IMHO. No tax rebate envy here.

Diversification.

I learned the hard way that the stock market isn't exactly dependable, so for the first time in my life, I looked into bonds and found Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, TIPS for short. So far I have been very happy with their plus-7% performance, and plan to gradually move more of my assets into TIPS.

Part-time work.

I had a brief three-week stint working at a nearby garden nursery this spring. I thought it would be a lot more fun than it was. Instead, I was expected to do twenty things at once, with minimal compensation and even less appreciation.

I now have new-found respect for those still in the working world earning minimum wage. For many such desperate individuals, the world of employment can be especially unrewarding.

Exercise.

Retiring early allowed me to pursue mountain biking on a full-time basis. In the past year, I have ridden over 6000 miles and have lost 15 pounds. My percent body fat has dropped from 32% to 22%. I never did stretches before retiring, and doing so has immensely improved my riding performance. I am in the best shape of my life and truly looking forward to breaking some personal records in a local bike race on July 4. Wish me luck!

General Health.

The typical indoor office work environment, coupled with co-workers passing germs to one another like candy, often gave me constant sniffles and occasional body aches and pains. Since retiring, they have all but gone away.

Health Insurance.

Ever since I started reading the REHP board, I have become totally disenchanted with health care in general, and health care insurance in particular. The shortage of qualified medical personnel and modern facilities, combined with the stress of being a medical professional in this day and age, paints a bleak picture of the health service industry at a time when costs and insurance premiums are going through the roof.

Television.

I like watching TV. A lot. I probably watch four or five hours of it every day. I know it rots my brain but so what. It's my brain, I can rot it if I want to.

Friends.

As you know, I have a 16-year-old neighborhood friend who continues to visit occasionally, who's fast becoming an avid mountain cyclist. I have no kids of my own, so interacting with him satisfies an primordial urge of mine to perform a pseudo-parental role. I think it's really cool that he hangs out with an old geezer like myself. His irrational youthful exuberance rubs off on me at times. It keeps me feeling young, an important component of early retirement.

I also try to have lunch with former co-workers at least twice a month, and to keep in touch with a lot of them via email at least once a week. It's great to hear how much they hate working, and how much they miss me.

The Internet.

The arrival of high-speed internet access has allowed me to participate in various online communities, like this one. I spend a lot of time researching topics of interest on the World Wide Web, which never ceases to amaze me in terms of the breadth and depth of its knowledge.

One thing I try to do every day on the internet is play a game of bridge or mahjongg. I find it keeps my mind keen---I really notice if I go several days without the game playing.

Pets.

Now that I'm around them a lot more, my cats have grown much more affectionate towards me and don't scratch the furniture nearly as