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OK, on other boards I see postings from younger people who say, I want to retire at 50, at 49, at 40... and therefore I must structure my investments thus and so. What are these people going to do until age 80 or 85 or 95? What do you guys do?

I "retired" at age 52 because the company I worked for for over 25 years could find no productive use for someone of my education and experience. They offered a pension based on the assumption that I was 5 years older than I was, and that I had worked for them for 5 years more than I actually did. This would enable me to start collecting my defined-benefit retirement payments immediately at a rate of 40% of my former salary. Furthermore, they would continue my medical benefits. Furthermore, if I were out before January 1, 1990, my pension would be increased by 15% for 5 years. If I were dumb enough to still be there on March 1, 1990, I would have to pay some of the insurance costs for my medical benefits.

Needless to say, I accepted the offer. I figured they would have to give me a $102,000 bonus to make up for the medical benefits payments I would have to make, and they had no interest in paying me a $102,000 bonus.

I figured out that I could just barely manage on that pension, and I seem to have figured correctly. I thought to get another job, and did so. It was at a small start-up company run by a few friends of mine developing an integrated voice, text, and image communication system. No one got paid, but we got some stock and options whose market value was zilch (i.e., only slightly more than nilch). But the work was very interesting for a little over 4 years when I left.

As far as my investments, I put 6% of my pay into a retirement program like a 401(k) with after tax money (that is how it was) that the company matched $0.50 to my dollar at first, but later at $2.00 to my $3.00 later. Then they changed it to a 401(k) when that became legal and I started putting 6% pre-tax and 6% after tax for about 3 years until I took that early retirement. In all, I put about $47,000 after tax money in that and when I retired, it was worth about $600,000. The investments were in company stock, a stodgey mutual fund run at first by Banker's Trust, and some Government Obligations. The rate of return was not exciting, but if you start in 1967 and do even that, it mounts up.

August 20, 1996, I rolled that over into a self-directed IRA and bought 3 shares BRK.A, put quite a bit into the Foolish Four. In November, I put most of the rest into the UG5 and left quite a lot in a money market. I have started a C-K portfolio that is a subset of the MoneyHeavy portfolio (about 6 of the 10 stocks). I have also purchased a few other stocks for emotional reasons, so the cash position is less than $5,000.

Other than that, I had a full-commission broker that did not work out all that well. I made money on a few things, and lost money on a lot of others. I have $50,000 face value of EE bonds, $50,000 in Swiss Francs (in an annuity), and about $25,000 in bullion-grade gold coins as insurance (I do not consider it an investment) against verious eventualities. At 60, it would be tough to start over.

My main problem is that even with all this money, I fear to spend it, and do so only when forced to. I cannot tell if I am being prudent or miserly.
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