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Pouring water on the FIRE movement: Experts say retiring at 35 is impossible for most — and even if you can, the cost is high
https://www.therecord.com/ts/business/2021/09/26/retiring-at...

Another misconception about FIRE is the idea that once you reach retirement, the rest of your life will be a financial breeze.

While that may be the case for a lucky few, for most, the discipline that got them there must continue as they are essentially relying on a fixed income for the foreseeable future.

Those who do retire significantly early will miss out on paying into pension plans, noted Calvert, meaning they won’t have the pensions in later life that others do. They’ll also be missing out on their prime earning years, as many people see their salaries and bonuses go up toward the middle or end of their careers.

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I often ponder the impossibility of FIRE when I leave my paid for home in my paid for automobile to drive to the airport for a few hours of recreational flying piloting a private aircraft around the Pacific Northwest.

Did I mention the "free Obamacare" and the well-above average SS benefit even though I've paid almost no FICA in the past 27 years?

intercst
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For you it worked out great but for others, it would be too high of a price to pay.

PSU
let's see if you interpret that right
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You did a great job, but good timing doesn’t hurt.
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Retiring early is very possible if you have the resources. Inheritance, good investment results, bonuses, company buyout, and probably more can contribute.

The key is adequate resources. I retired at age 53 with double calculated minimum resources.

The average person probably does not get the opportunity. But some do, and they can decide to retire early.

But there are also those who enjoy their jobs and decide not to retire even though they have the resources.
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The key is adequate resources for your chosen lifestyle.

Many FIRE people live exceedingly frugally. Almost poverty level. They want to not-work more than they want to (for example) travel. So they live in a tiny room, don't go anywhere, don't eat out. You can FIRE that way, but I wouldn't want to.

And since I didn't buy DELL when it was cheap, I had to do it the old fashioned way. I'll only be a few years early at this point, but it's still early. At least I won't have to work into my 70s like 1poormom did. I'll be out next year (may wait for the ESPP in March...haven't decided).

1poorguy
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And since I didn't buy DELL when it was cheap, I had to do it the old fashioned way.

</snip>


So did I. DELL and PFE didn't take off until after I'd been retired for a few years. Prior to my retirement, I'd only beaten the S&P500 return by 1%-2% annualized over the previous 13 years I'd been investing in the stock market.

So it wasn't extraordinary investment returns that allowed me to retire early. Living in a low tax state with low housing costs and saving a large portion of my gross salary had more to do with it. (I started saving 25% of gross income once I'd paid off my student loans at age 25, ramping up to 50% of gross that last 2 or 3 years before I retired at age 38. Who knows, maybe I could have retired at 35 if I hadn't spent those 3 years working in California. <LOL>

intercst
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So it wasn't extraordinary investment returns that allowed me to retire early. Living in a low tax state with low housing costs and saving a large portion of my gross salary had more to do with it. (I started saving 25% of gross income once I'd paid off my student loans at age 25, ramping up to 50% of gross that last 2 or 3 years before I retired at age 38. Who knows, maybe I could have retired at 35 if I hadn't spent those 3 years working in California. <LOL>

It was being single your whole life. That was the tradeoff I was referring to.

PSU
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PSU writes,

It was being single your whole life. That was the tradeoff I was referring to.

</snip>


That's another common misconception. A couple with similar incomes and the same philosophy on saving & investing should be able to retire even earlier, since they only need to fund the expenses of one household between them.

Of course, if you have kids, that's obviously an added expense that will delay retirement -- but so is buying a boat or an airplane.

intercst
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That's another common misconception.

I'm sure you have a lot of real life experience.

A couple with similar incomes and the same philosophy on saving & investing should be able to retire even earlier, since they only need to fund the expenses of one household between them.

I don't often see couples with identical philosophies. Even two frugal people have different levels of frugalness. While there are some expenses that are shared like heat, then are others such as water and clothing that are not. There are additional couple expenses like occasional dinners at restaurants, travel, movies, concerts, sporting events, etc. that couples do. There is a lot of stuff I could get away with when single. For example, I could go weeks without changing the bed sheets. No way I could do that now. There are another family to consider. Unless the significant other's family lives in the same town, you are traveling several times a year to visit.

Of course, if you have kids, that's obviously an added expense that will delay retirement -- but so is buying a boat or an airplane.

Kids are a whole another level. Boats are cheaper.

PSU
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PSU explains,

<<A couple with similar incomes and the same philosophy on saving & investing should be able to retire even earlier, since they only need to fund the expenses of one household between them.>>

I don't often see couples with identical philosophies. Even two frugal people have different levels of frugalness. While there are some expenses that are shared like heat, then are others such as water and clothing that are not. There are additional couple expenses like occasional dinners at restaurants, travel, movies, concerts, sporting events, etc. that couples do. There is a lot of stuff I could get away with when single. For example, I could go weeks without changing the bed sheets. No way I could do that now. There are another family to consider. Unless the significant other's family lives in the same town, you are traveling several times a year to visit.

</snip>


You could have sent a kid to college with the money I squandered in restaurants and bars in my 20's and 30's. I really didn't take up the practice of cooking the occasional meal until I hit 50.

Most of my family lives between New York and Boston, and I spent my working career in the Gulf Coast and California. I was typically flying back and forth to the Northeast at least twice a year.

I really don't see much of a difference in expenditures, but I concede that you don't often find couples with identical philosophies. Thus, the 50% divorce rate and the remainder who are very tolerant. <LOL>

intercst
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While that may be the case for a lucky few, for most, the discipline that got them there must continue...

It doesn't seem odd to me that people will keep the same financial habits post-FIRE that got them to FIRE in the first place.
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Most of my family lives between New York and Boston, and I spent my working career in the Gulf Coast and California. I was typically flying back and forth to the Northeast at least twice a year.

And if your significant others family is in Montana and Arizona?

PSU
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And if your significant others family is in Montana and Arizona?

</snip>


Obviously, I would exercise greater care in choosing in-laws. <LOL>

I never had more than 2 weeks of vacation when I was working, so if I was traveling to visit far away in-laws, that just meant fewer trips to typical vacation destinations.

intercst
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I never had more than 2 weeks of vacation when I was working…

And I never understood why Americans think their country and way of life is so exceptional and should be emulated by the rest of the world.

Most of the developed world have a much better quAlity of life, even if they pay higher taxes and live in smaller houses. Most have cradle to grave health care, 4-6 weeks paid leave, low-cost/ free child care, maternal/paternal leave, free college education, higher life expectancy…. There is no need for FIRE.
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It was being single your whole life. That was the tradeoff I was referring to.

I tend to find people who set a goal usually find a way to get there. Some people just use excuses as to why they didn't get there.

Andy
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"Most of the developed world have a much better quAlity of life, even if they pay higher taxes and live in smaller houses. Most have cradle to grave health care, 4-6 weeks paid leave, low-cost/ free child care, maternal/paternal leave, free college education, higher life expectancy…. There is no need for FIRE. "

well, I'm not so sure working another 15 or 20 years at a 'job' is all that 'fulfilling' then retiring at full retirement age - 65, likely to be 67 or 70 in the future......when you could retire early.

Of course, in a lot of those countries with HIGH TAXES, HIGH consumption taxes (VAT), etc, and overall lower salaries, etc, it's almost impossible to built a portfolio to retire on early. And 'free college' only works if you are in the top quarter or third. The lower third gets shuffled off to trade schools. Those in the middle spend time as apprentices.

With the price of cars 50% more, with the price of just about everything 50% more due to VAT, they buy less, consume less.

- - -----
"Many FIRE people live exceedingly frugally. Almost poverty level. They want to not-work more than they want to (for example) travel. So they live in a tiny room, don't go anywhere, don't eat out. You can FIRE that way, but I wouldn't want to."

Horse puckey. I started out living in an apt after college with roommates and paid off my student loans and car payments in less than 3 years. Went out on most weekends down to Chicago. Had a nice red '69 Corvette T-Top. Moved to VA after 3 years and lived in duplex (2 bedrooms), ate out a couple times a week, spent $$ on weekends, put together a $10,000 ham radio station on a nice hilltop later and lived in my 3 bedroom house there for 7 years, before moving to Washington DC and buying a nice townhome in Arlington VA. There for 7 years before moving to TX and buying a 4 bedroom house with pool.

I always put a chunk of paycheck away - either company stock plans, or stock investing. Later when 401Ks came along, contributed all I could.

Never lived in a tiny room not going anywhere and out out 1/3rd my meals. Never did raman noodles as dinner. Traveled to every county in the US including AK and HI, half a dozen EU countries, Caribbean Islands with Sue, Asia to Thailand twice. Trip to Vietnam. Half dozen trips to EU, Newfoundland, etc - weeks at a time.

Saved enough along the way to happily retire at age 52.5.

PS. Here in TX, I remember folks telling me about Dell when it was in the penny sheets I think. They were hiring like crazy. Didn't buy any. Big mistake. $1000 investment would have wound up as probably near 50 million.....

t.
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mam:"There is no need for FIRE. "

And who are you to tell folks they have to WORK, WORK, WORK, till 'retirement age' as their bodies get older, the aches and pains increase, the folks working outside all the time start feeling the cold and hot weather as age creeps up, the folks in cubicles for 50 years don't go crazy staring at a computer screen 40 hours a week.

So they get 4 weeks vacation after busting their tails for 11 months a year. So what? I got 4 weeks vacation after 15 years of service, 3 weeks at 10 years. If you combined the vacation time with holidays, you'd wind up with more 'whole weeks' off.

You really think that ditch diggers, high line riggers on 300 foot tall power poles, snow plow operators in blizzards are 'enjoying' work at age 60?

There's almost no chance of retiring early in most of your 'developed countries' the traditional way. Work, work, work, pay high taxes taxes and taxes, and if you survive you get to collect a pension......

ME? 31 years of 'work' then gone. Retired early. If I had put my mind to it, really, living in a tiny apartment, eating at home, I probably could have retired at 45, not 52.5. Then again, I'd have missed out on a lot of fun along the way.

'mam' you've got a serious problem with the FIRE crowd. We're not misers, pinching every penny. We just save a good chunk of our paychecks rather than blowing it on fancy clothes, cars, houses, boats, RVs, ATVs, motorcycles, and fancy vacations to 'exotic' places at horrendous costs.


t.
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You have no recommendations left for today. 

Andy writes:
I tend to find people who set a goal usually find a way to get there. Some people just use excuses as to why they didn't get there.

All my life I was taught "Get a good education, get a good job, and they'll take care of you."

Back in the early 1990's, I was early 30s:
I got the good education,
I got the good job.
And, they were taking advantage of me.

Then, an acquaintance showed me TMF, I started hanging out on the REHP board... there, I was introduced to FIRE, and the steps to make it happen.
Thanks to intercst and TMF.

I set the goals, and began the journey.
I used intercst's philosophies for the next 23 years.
I RE'd in 2017.

👍🙂
ralph
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"even if they pay higher taxes and live in smaller houses"

My daughter lived in Germany for 4 years. She didn't pay more in taxes but she did live in an apartment as did most of the people in the area (and they were just normal apartment size, even the 3 bedroom ones).
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Minor quibble: the need for FIRE is personal. Some love their work, some hate it. Some would do it for free, or can't imagine not doing it as long as they are able. Others want to be free to do other things.

In my case, I liked my job for many years. But now I don't like its restrictions on my free time (i.e. not enough free time). So I'm going to FIRE in the next several months.

Everything else you said it correct. The bummer is that I didn't work outside the US, so no one wants an aging retiree as an immigrant. Especially an American. (And I don't blame them, either.)
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The bummer is that I didn't work outside the US, so no one wants an aging retiree as an immigrant.

If you have enough moolah there are some countries that would accept an American, even the USAian kind.

Pete
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The bummer is that I didn't work outside the US, so no one wants an aging retiree as an immigrant. Especially an American. (And I don't blame them, either.)

As I have shared with you before, there are a lot of countries that will allow you to live there, some will allow for citizenship, if you simply demonstrate a guaranteed source of income.

A few you may consider:

https://residencies.io/residency/costa-rica/temporary-reside....

https://bz.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resource...

https://www.embassyofpanama.org/visas-1

https://internationalliving.com/countries/honduras/visa/ (not the mainland of course)
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Yes, there are options. But the poster I was responding to said "developed world". I don't think Costa Rica fits in that category, though it might be a fine place to go.

I'm thinking Canada, most of Europe, parts of Asia (like Japan). Those are "developed". And they don't want us. Unless we have to be very wealthy (which I am not, by developed world standards).

I should be OK, but the excrement is likely to hit the air-moving device around the time I die. The ratio of workers to benefits receivers is going to be crappy (expect benefit cuts), people aren't (and already can't, in many cases) afford school, health care is only getting more expensive, etc.

People retired now hit the sweet spot. I may barely have squeaked under the wire. Twenty years from now it's probably gonna get ugly.

I'd rather be in Sweden. (Hey, I got a parka.)
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Seems to me the pundits who carp about FIRE are missing the point. It is NOT about retiring early, it is about Financially Independence and the flexibility that goes with it - to retire or not to retire.

FI is not hard to do if someone thinks through what is important to them and they think independently. Both are rare attributes for 20 somethings - even 50 & sixty somethings. :(
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Not quite FIRE, but these folks seem to have a more enjoyable life ... (surrounded by water)

Family moved to Antigua and author provides some cost figures--
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/28/this-family-left-the-us-for-...
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And I never understood why Americans think their country and way of life is so exceptional and should be emulated by the rest of the world.

Most of the developed world have a much better quAlity of life, even if they pay higher taxes and live in smaller houses. Most have cradle to grave health care, 4-6 weeks paid leave, low-cost/ free child care, maternal/paternal leave, free college education, higher life expectancy…. There is no need for FIRE.


I totally agree. And I just see things going forward getting worse rather than better.
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Most of 'developed' Europe has a population problem. Too few new kids of the residents, resulting in having to import millions of workers, hopefully to fund all the taxes to keep paying benefits to retirees and everyone else. Unfortunately, most of the imported people do not share the values of the Swedes - and in two generations, most of Sweden will be bowing down five times a day to Mecca. Just look at the birth rate of the imported folks, and tell me about the cities overrun already.


Just wondering if you’ve been paying attention at all to the news in the US re birth rate and labor shortages…

And re your comment about Mecca: well, I’ve erased my response about 5 times because I don’t want to get banned from the Fool. Suffice to say, do you even think about the stuff that you spew?
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I agree. The "FI" is the really important part. What you do with "FI" is up to you. You can retire at 38 like intercst, or you can open your own business, or pursue your photography (or other art), or whatever you like. Once you are "FI", the world is your oyster. "RE" is just one option.
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But the poster I was responding to said "developed world".

I guess it depends on what one considers developed. San Jose, Costa Rica is fairly 1st World. You don't have to live in the jungle if you don't want to.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Jos%C3%A9,_Costa_Rica

San José is notable among Latin American cities for its high quality of life,[9] security, level of globalization, environmental performance, public service,[10] and recognized institutions. According to studies on Latin America, San José is one of the safest and least violent cities in the region.[11] In 2006, the city was appointed Ibero-American Capital of Culture. According to The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2012, San José is the sixth-most visited destination in Latin America, ranking first in Central America.[12] San José ranked 15th in the world's fastest-growing destination cities by visitor cross-border spending.[13] It is considered a "Beta-" global city by GaWC.

---------

Other notable Beta- cities include: Austin, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Tampa.

It is also worth noting that Phoenix is ranked lower.
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Phoenix proper is a pit. Well, it was. It's getting better. They're reworking the downtown, and several neighborhoods are being revitalized. When the light rail went in, the neighborhoods adjacent were slums. Now everything is shiny new.

Not that the people that live there disappeared. I'm sure they went to other slums.

Some of the surrounding areas are nice, And we do have some first-rate medical care. My surgeon when I had the tumor was one that people came from all over the world to see. I just had to drive 30 miles to the hospital in Phoenix.

That said, I'm still very open to relocating. As long as we can get first-rate medical care, since we both have histories now.

A change of seasons would be nice too. Right now it's two seasons: "summer" and "broil". I'd like at least three seasons, and preferably not a "broil" option.
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On Jill Schlessinger's podcast, she has taken to using the acronym FINE. It stands for Financial Independence Next Endeavor. I think it is an apt description of what many people want. Many of her callers are looking for a career change that will give them a better quality of life. Some do want to retire from the working world.
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So flame away, I can take it.....

Or maybe just move this discussion to one of the political boards.
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Good enough. That’s what my
Ignore button is for.
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I had hoped a post or two, and this would die. But it hasn't. What does any of this have to do with retirement and investing?? There are boards more appropriate to political discussion. Can we try to keep this board clean?

A list of Biden's accomplishments, and any retorts, have nothing to do with FIRE (for example).
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"On Jill Schlessinger's podcast, she has taken to using the acronym FINE. It stands for Financial Independence Next Endeavor. I think it is an apt description of what many people want. Many of her callers are looking for a career change that will give them a better quality of life"

Oh, I'm sure a lot of unhappy folks at their jobs wish they had the 'resources' to go off and do 'their thing' whether it be painting, sculpting, creating art from wood, metal, etc. Or be an organic farmer on a few acres.

If you're in your 50s and 60s, likely that's just an excuse to 'retire' and pursue your hobbies full time.

If you're in your 50s and 60s, most people and their jobs are past 'peak earning years' and many are holding on for pension credits, health care benefits, hoping not to get outsourced or replaced with someone at half their pay level. There is little 'corporate concern' for long time employees in most professions these days, and too many "Dilbert" type pointy haired bosses who have reached the level of incompetence (Peter principle).

I was glad to get out of telecom industry in my early 50s - and fortunately just before it cratered, putting 30,000 telecom workers out on the street looking for new jobs, likely in different industries at substantially less pay.

I had no desire to 're-invent myself' in a different career other than 'being retired early'.

However, I'm sure there are millions who hope to have the bare resources to be 'financially independent' so they can leave their current job and do just about anything else, even if part time for some spare cash.



t.
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