No. of Recommendations: 66
Okay, how'd I do it?
How did I--in ten years--go from a $20k initial bankroll taken from a cash-out refi on our house to being able to retire with an income equal to my [previous] salary. While continuing to work at my day job.

I got started with the Motley Fool. Followed Robert Sheard and the Foolish Four and Unemotional Investing. Got involved with Mechanical Investing--standing on the shoulders of others while trying to make contributions & studies of my own. Read tons of books. Rode the tidal wave of the dot-com boom, and gave back a bunch of it in the dot-com crash. Followed Jim Cramer (who Madge calls "The Screamer"). Cleverly realized that Cramer was like a napalm bomb--valuable, but you had to be very careful else you'd get burned to a crisp. Very much took to heart the lessons & stories he told about risk management, and the futility of market timing. Realized that you have to stay in the game, and therefore you have to be anal-retentive about risk management.

I was lucky enough to learn a good philosophy. Shortly after hiring on at my company, a guy retired at age 65 with 35 years of service. Two weeks later there was a notice posted on the entrance door, saying that he had died of a heart attack. What a bummer--work hard all your life toward retirement, but then die before you could enjoy it. In our town, there was a steep hill with a winding curve. On night a guy was going home westbound and a cement truck was going eastbound. At the peak of the curve, the cement truck's chute came loose and swung out into the other lane, taking out the guys's windshield, roof, and head. A few months before I retired, a guy was going to work in the morning and was sitting at a red light. A gravel truck came out of the cross street, made a left turn, and overturned in the intersection, dumping a few tons of fine Illinois’ limestone on the guy's car and squashing it--and him. My dad retired before my mom, but he died of lung cancer before she retired and so they were not able to travel the world as they had always wanted to.

The philosophical lesson I got from all this was: You can make all the plans you want, but unplanned bad things can still happen at any time. You need to do the things you want while you still can, but you can't spend all your money too young, before it has had a chance to grow. There is a tension in both life & in investing. You have to balance these things---spend vs. invest, risk vs. reward, greed vs. fear. If you take on risk too soon, you loose your nest egg. If you don't take on enough risk, you never beat inflation.

I am happy to see that many of the old board regulars are still around. And sad to see that many others have dropped off over the years---Sparfarkle, TimberFool, MontanaFool, etc. And very sad to hear of Ken Keyer's untimely death at the age of 42. And pleased to see so many new people to keep the MI board active and informational.

BTW, in the early days of the MI board, we used to joke about retiring on the beach in Belize. Well, I got a chance to visit Belize. Unfortunately, Belize isn't a place you want to retire to, beach or no. In fact, Madge said that she never wants to go to Belize again--but if we ever do go there, we are not getting off the ship.
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