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No. of Recommendations: 17
What drives us to retire at an early age?

Well for me, I have three key motivating factors. They are:

- To have more time to spend doing something else
- Escape from corporate America
- Want to maximize remaining years

I will acknowledge that there may be alternate solutions to address these factors individually, however RE seems the perfect solution for me to solve all three at the same time.

1.To have more time to spend doing something else
This applied to me even though I don't quite have it worked out the exact details of what that “something else” is. You see, I used to envy those people who had knew exactly what they would do after reaching FI. And I thought that I might as well keep working until I knew exactly what I wanted to do. One day I woke up and saw the problem in this approach. It's the same as attempting to reach a nest egg to support a super low SWR—by the time you figure it out, you may no longer be an early retiree.

That's because when you are stressed out from work, it's hard to find the time to set down and do this type of analysis. Most of your free time is spent recovering from work. So, I found a shortcut method in a book about retirement planning called Comfort Zones by Elwood Chapman. This book contains some tests to help one sort out ones interest in different categories of retirement activities. The test results highlighted some favorite activities and in addition showed ones I hadn't considered before.

2. Escape from corporate America
Probably no need to explain this factor. But if you need one, just select and read any thread on the “My job sucks” board.


3. Want to maximize remaining years
Due to some personal factors, actuary calculations predict that I'll live a much shorter life than will the average woman my age. While I fight like heck to beat those calculations, still I consider this prediction when I ask myself whether or not I am spending my life in a worthwhile manner. Galeno had a great post about the reverse "time-value" of life where each youthful today is worth more than each "old-age" day tomorrow. So even more valuable are those todays when there is likely fewer tomorrows.


Anyone else care to share...




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No. of Recommendations: 35
I'm lazy and I hate having to work. I don't do well with authority and I hate having a boss. I like sleeping till I wake up and hate being woke up by an alarm clock. I like taking naps in the afternoon. - Art
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No. of Recommendations: 4
I have a couple of motivations. First off, I am coming up soon against the time when age discrimination becomes a real problem. I'm a 41 y.o. software developer and program manager. There aren't a lot of 40+ software developers, and I'm not sure I want to keep doing it all that much longer anyway.

Secondly, I want the financial independence to try some other things. I would really like to take a string of crappy jobs, just so I can quit when they become overbearing.

It's a tough mental challenge these days. In 2000 the investing decisions seemed obvious -- put money in stocsk and watch them grow 15-25% a year. Now nothing seems to work. Stocks have been terrible, bonds have had their run, cash is paying 1-2%. I find myself suffering from paralysis from analysis. I've got a substantial cash position, which isn't getting me any closer to FI, but is at least eliminating the losses. what to do, what to do...

tutone
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No. of Recommendations: 51
<<I'm lazy and I hate having to work. I don't do well with authority and I hate having a boss. I like sleeping till I wake up and hate being woke up by an alarm clock. I like taking naps in the afternoon. - Art

>>


Just as I always suspected. Art is a cat.





Seattle Pioneer
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<<I'm lazy and I hate having to work. I don't do well with authority and I hate having a boss. I like sleeping till I wake up and hate being woke up by an alarm clock. I like taking naps in the afternoon. - Art

>>


Just as I always suspected. Art is a cat.



gee! this sounds like me too! i work the third shift and maybe art does too!
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I've got a substantial cash position, which isn't getting me any closer to FI, but is at least eliminating the losses. what to do, what to do...

Buy real estate! (Sorry...couldn't resist. <grin>)
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No. of Recommendations: 2
Buy real estate! (Sorry...couldn't resist. <grin>)

Already done. Well, sort of. The mortgage is 1/2 paid off, so I guess I 1/2 own real estate.

That's another iron in the fire. I struggle every month with what to do with the investable cash. It's a quality problem obviously, but nevertheless. Do I pay down the mortgage, hoard the cash, or throw some more into the downward spiraling market? So far the mortgage pay-down has been far and away my best investment the last two years.

tutone
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No. of Recommendations: 0
I struggle every month with what to do with the investable cash.

I should've said, "income-producing real estate." I think if you did so, and you were willing to either (a) hire competent property management; or (b) do a little property management yourself, you'd feel the same way about your investment property two years down the road as you do about the mortgage pay-down of the last two years.

I'm doing non-owner occupant loans for a bunch of people who think that real estate is the place to be now, the stock market being what it is. They could be wrong, but they could be very right, too.
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I'm doing non-owner occupant loans for a bunch of people who think that real estate is the place to be now, the stock market being what it is. They could be wrong, but they could be very right, too.

I hope they aren't in southern California.
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I hope they aren't in southern California.

It doesn't matter where you are if you buy it right.
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No. of Recommendations: 1
I should've said, "income-producing real estate." I think if you did so, and you were willing to either (a) hire competent property management; or (b) do a little property management yourself, you'd feel the same way about your investment property two years down the road as you do about the mortgage pay-down of the last two years.

If I had your industry experience I would probably feel a lot more comfortable with this approach. But living in the S.F. bay area, in probably the most overvalued real estate market in the country, this just doesn't feel like the right time to be buying more property. Especially when roughly 70% of my net worth is already tied up in my house. I hope I'm wrong, but this feels like a GREAT time to be selling a house. If I were single and didn't have a teenager at home I would probably be selling the house and renting for a few years.

tutone
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No. of Recommendations: 2
I'm lazy and I hate having to work. I don't do well with authority and I hate having a boss. I like sleeping till I wake up and hate being woke up by an alarm clock. I like taking naps in the afternoon.

Sounds like my teenage son. You left out, "and I eat like a horse."
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No. of Recommendations: 14
What drives us to retire at an early age?

My case is a bit unusual in that I was never so driven to retire early that I made adjustments, scrimped and saved, and won the prize.

I was more driven to work myself to death in my business, become as wealthy as possible, and somewhere along the line, just die I suppose.

A brief sickness about 3 years ago, and the testimonies of many fine folks here were the chief motivators in my early retirement. The old timers will recall I was converted pretty quickly. I owe a great debt to those folks.

Fortunately, I was already in a financial position to retire early when the bug bit me, so I didnt have to live years yearning for that time when funds were sufficient. Dont think I dont know how rare that is, and I'm grateful for the position I was/am in.

Other motivators for retiring early were as follows, and in no particular order:

Son growing up too fast

Wife hated her job

No time for a spiritual life

Taxes

Legal liability involved in running a business

Disgust and disappointment in [many of] my employee's work ethic

Too much business travel, not enough personal travel

Working wasnt fun anymore

Because I could <grin>

Golfwaymore




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No. of Recommendations: 13
Catherine writes,

I'm doing non-owner occupant loans for a bunch of people who think that real estate is the place to be now, the stock market being what it is. They could be wrong, but they could be very right, too.

I cant help but be reminded of the same geniuses who though the Nasdaq was the place to be along about 2000.

Buying high & selling low never goes out of style I guess. <grin>

Golfwaymore
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No. of Recommendations: 1
I want to be Financially Independent so that I could come into my office and just hard work at least 12 hours a day for FREE, just for the fun of it. No, absolutely just kidding! It would be fun to be like the guy on Office Space who just was laid back and wandered in and out of the office when he felt like it and see how long before I got fired!!!!
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Buying high & selling low never goes out of style I guess.

You have a good point, golfwaymore. Sometimes I wonder myself if every single piece of real estate in the United States is over-priced. But what I meant was, relative to the stock market,can real estate be the place to be? If the stock market sucks, and one can't get anywhere in cash, doesn't buying well-priced real estate (there is still some out there) makes sense still?
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"gee! this sounds like me too! i work the third shift and maybe art does too!" - cgrinder

Actually, I've been sort of "early retired" since April, 01. I was laid off in June, 98 from my long time job at the UT Vet School, went back to school and got re-certified to teach school, was a miserable failure at it, and have given up since then. Don't worry about withdrawal or investment strategies, just plan on living on what I got. Whatever happens -> happens. I turn 50 in March, actually looking forward to it. Plan on starting my 72(t)SEPP's sometime next year, and I have a pension starting when I turn 55, in 08. If I make it to Social security time I'll be back to where I was when I was working. Don't worry about death, because either near death experiencers are right, and life after death is glorious, or death is the big sleep, either of which doesn't sound all that bad!

I do some work around the house. There was a big tall skinny pine tree overhanging the house. I noticed the other day as I was walking back from the mail box (it's a long walk), that the wind was blowing in exactly the right direction to blow the tree away from the house, down the hill, so I got out my chain saw and started cutting on that tree. It blew in exactly the right direction, away from the house and - voila! - one less thing to worry about. So, feeling cocky, there was another tall skinny pine that needed cutting and I tried that one. It fell into a neighbor tree and there it sits. I plan on leaving it there it rots to the ground. - Art
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I have an acquaintance who's a statistician for a mortgage insurance company. Naturally, such companies have an interest in real estate declines. Right now he's working on a model regarding real estate bubbles. He says:

The MSAs at the most risk for being in a bubble are Jersey City NJ, San Luis Obispo CA, Santa Barbara CA, Miami FL, and Dutchess County NY. The five least risk MSAs are Memphis TN, Little Rock AR, Spokane WA, Salt Lake City UT, and Albuquerque NM. (This model includes only the top 200 largest MSAs. We used an equation involving home price appreciation, income change, income levels, and MSA diversity scores.)

Just as there are good values to be found in equities no matter what the overall condition of the market, there are good values (if you can find them, of course) in real estate.

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No. of Recommendations: 20
What drives us to retire at an early age?

Anyone else care to share...



<tongue-in-cheek>

Because I'm lazy, selfish and anti-social.

1.) I'm lazy because I'm unwilling to work hard to meet the common definition of "success". Don't even think about whether the common definition of success is what everybody should be striving for. It just is and those of us who aren't willing to work hard to meet it are just shiftless no-good malcontents. There's a reason that the status quo is the status quo and questioning it is seditious, so I never question it. I just sit back and let others step and fetch for me. The only function I voluntarily serve is as an example of how not to get ahead.

2.) I'm selfish because I'm fully capable of being a contributing member of society, but I simply don't want to be bothered. I'm willing to join the ranks of the low income non taxpaying almost majority of people in this country so that I can let others carry the burden of society. I'm a certified wagon rider protecting my health and happiness while letting the wagon pullers suffer the heart attacks and ulcers that go along with their quests for success. The fact that I spent 18 years pulling well above average as a wagon puller should be ignored. I was simply afraid to embrace my laziness and be as selfish as I could be. I'm better now.

3.) I'm anti-social because I refuse to "be one" with the collective of all the societies and sub-societies that "normal" people embrace. I'm an enemy of these societies because everybody knows that everybody must depend on each other and everybody should live in harmony and all conflict is evil. We therefore all need each other and everybody has to be willing to make great sacrifices so that we can all get along "for the benefit of everyone". I'm especially evil because my skillsets and talents make me such a potentially strong wagon puller and my abandonment of the common cause heartlessly results in more suffering for the "less fortunate". I'm so ashamed I'll just have to go live in the woods and commune with nature until I find myself and can rejoin my brothers and sisters. And I will be accepted back into the fold even if I can't pull the wagon anymore, because I'm a victim of society and it would be cruel to let me suffer.

</tongue-in-cheek>

That was fun.

Now for a more serious answer.

Because I'm basically a loner in a world comprised of leaders, followers and loners. As an employee in the world, I was both a valuable commodity and a royal PITA to the leaders. I was too independent to entrust their futures to, but I was a necessary evil because my independence was a required element of problem solving that the followers and leaders could not do and could not succeed without. The leaders rewarded me well enough to provide for early FI, while alienating me sufficiently to inspire a leap of faith.

Looked at another way, I'm an "I" in a world dominated by "E"s. As proof, I submit that if you ask people what the opposite of "social" is, the majority will say "anti-social". My belief is the minority belief that people fall on a line between completely social (100% social dependent) and completely non-social (100% self-sufficient), but there is nothing "anti-" about that. IOW, the "E" belief is a black/white belief that people who are almost non-social are against (anti) them, because "E"s have a higher need for social interaction and "I"s don't fill that need. OTOH, the "I" belief is that independence is not a moral or us vs. them issue and that shades of gray are normal.

I'm happier now because I have fewer Es pressuring me to conform to their definitions of an "acceptable" member of society. I am able to focus more frequently and for longer periods of time. To a person like me the focal point is where the voices go silent, the clarity increases exponentially and inner peace occurs.

1HF
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What drives us to retire at an early age?

I can say "mee too" to most of the responses here ... but I think my major motivator is simply, Life is Short.

My dad worked hard until the day he was diagnosed with lung cancer at 62. Died six painful months later.

My mom worked part time and scrimped and saved and kept putting off fun things until "someday". Then she too was diagnosed with cancer, at age 67, and died four months later.

I learned from my parents that our own mortality has an annoying habit of mucking up long-range plans, and that some of us don't ever make it to that nebulous "someday".

So I'm trying to reach "someday" sooner rather than later. :)

jobobb


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To a person like me the focal point is where the voices go silent, the clarity increases exponentially and inner peace occurs.

What a post! I'm surprised you lasted a week in what must surely have been an agonizingly stifling environment. Too bad you couldn't have found your voice for writing early on before you had to endure such suffering; you may have been one of the profound historians of our era. On the other hand, it's that very suffering that makes your writing so compelling. It's not too late, you know, to cash in on such talent. :-)
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I do some work around the house. There was a big tall skinny pine tree overhanging the house. I noticed the other day as I was walking back from the mail box (it's a long walk), that the wind was blowing in exactly the right direction to blow the tree away from the house, down the hill, so I got out my chain saw and started cutting on that tree. It blew in exactly the right direction, away from the house and - voila! - one less thing to worry about. So, feeling cocky, there was another tall skinny pine that needed cutting and I tried that one. It fell into a neighbor tree and there it sits. I plan on leaving it there it rots to the ground. - Art

Heh, heh. I just got back inside from playing with my chainsaw. I cut up some of those branches that the ice storm the other week broke. Plus, I finished cutting up a Maple tree that I had cut down awhile back. I can't cut too big of a piece of wood though, as I have a fairly small chainsaw. Only 16". I have some huge trees, so if they ever come down I'll have to invest in a bigger chainsaw, pay someone to cut it up, or just leave it to rot.

Art, did your arms get as tired as mine did from cutting wood?
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You have a good point, golfwaymore. Sometimes I wonder myself if every single piece of real estate in the United States is over-priced. But what I meant was, relative to the stock market,can real estate be the place to be? If the stock market sucks, and one can't get anywhere in cash, doesn't buying well-priced real estate (there is still some out there) makes sense still?

I believe in buying at a significant discount to FMV, whether it's real estate, stocks, or anything else. Those opportunities have been more apparent in equities for the past year, IMHO.

One beatiful thing about investing in real estate at a 20%~30% discount is the lack of volatility as compared to equities. Buying at a significant disount in real estate virtually gurantees a good return, even for the short term.

Stock markets frequently dive 20%~30%. Real estate values, across the board, have never plummeted similarly. That fact, and the confidence that I have in my ability to buy at a discount makes real estate an outperforming, risk insulated investment, at least to/for me.

Golfwaymore


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No. of Recommendations: 4
The only function I voluntarily serve is as an example of how not to get ahead.
too funny!

Looked at another way, I'm an "I" in a world dominated by "E"s. As proof, I submit that if you ask people what the opposite of "social" is, the majority will say "anti-social". My belief is the minority belief that people fall on a line between completely social (100% social dependent) and completely non-social (100% self-sufficient), but there is nothing "anti-" about that.

So true. I've taken MBTI a few times and my most frequently occuring test result is ISTP. I have had some tests indicate an "N" instead of the "S" and some have indicated a "J" rather than a "P". But on the "I" and and "T" they are all consistent. However I'm a pretty social person. For example, I am prefectly at ease at starting a conversation with a total stranger. In fact when I shared my test results with my friends, they can't believe that I'm an introvert.
But they don't understand--being an "I" doesn't always mean that one is shy or anti-social--rather it has more to do with a strong desire for independence and the need to withdraw to recharge ones batteries.

One interesting note about ISTPs according to the book "Lifetypes". It said that this type will work as long as we find work interesting. However when we no longer do, then we will attempt to retire early!
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That fact, and the confidence that I have in my ability to buy at a discount makes real estate an outperforming, risk insulated investment, at least to/for me.

Amen! So we really agree. :-)
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No. of Recommendations: 8
It's not too late, you know, to cash in on such talent. :-)

Aw, shucks. <blush>

Catherine, you are a seductress. I identified writing as my first love almost three decades ago. I'm not sure how important the suffering is, but I had already done enough to have achieved a small amount of recognition for "compelling" writing during high school. When I went to college, I accepted the advice of somebody to whom I will forever owe a debt of gratitude and unfortunately I remember almost nothing about him or her. I will refer to this person as herm for that reason.

I was speaking to a counselor at my college during my first term freshman year enrollment while I was trying to select a major. Herm asked a few typical guidance questions like "what do you do well?" and "what are you passionate about?". Herm identified writing and analytical problem solving as my strengths (and of course my high school grades confirmed this). Herm also identified that writing was my best method for communicating. Herms advice was that I should remain "no pref" for my first year of college and split my course load between engineering prerequisites and English prerequisites and decide later about which path to follow.

Then herm said something along the lines of: "Both writing and problem solving are talents and they will be with you all your life. If you love one of them but do it for the wrong reasons, you may end up hating it. You might want to decide which one you would least want to hate?"

My writing has been a realm of focus and a place where inner peace comes easily to me ever since I made the decision to follow the problem solver path. I've never had a problem doing as much or as little writing as I wanted. I probably made more money as an engineer than I ever could have expected as a writer, but more importantly, I loved my work as an engineer. I was simply unable to avoid the conflicts of working with people who erected barriers to channel me onto a rodent exercise wheel. I could not have anticipated this when selecting a major, but I can now see how a career in writing could have burned the creative spark out of me.

When I entered my engineering career, I knew nothing about my relative position on the social scale. When I left it, I had recognized that the careers of many of the people I had worked for or with were more than just occupations for them. Their careers were outlets for their leader or follower needs and as such, their motivations were divergent with both good business and my best interests. By the third time that I heard "Being correct is more important than being right" I was certain that I was stuck in an alogical paradox.

Upon extrication, I was glad that I had achieved FI as quickly and cleanly as I had without ever corrupting my love of writing with too much formal literal education or the quest for cash. Problem solving is second nature to me. I can't hate it or love it. Writing is my first love and I would rejoin the work force in a low paying job before trying to make a living at it.

Maybe I could simply make some extra spending money without killing my first love, but that doesn't interest me. When I wake in the morning, the analyzer begins seeking a subject to focus on. It never finds the quest for economic gain through writing, but it still finds topics worth writing about.

1HF
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Maybe I could simply make some extra spending money without killing my first love, but that doesn't interest me.

Ha! An invitation or two to Oprah or Larry King Live--glory, fanfare, fame!--and I bet you'd be singing a different tune. LOL

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An invitation or two to Oprah or Larry King Live--glory, fanfare, fame!--and I bet you'd be singing a different tune.

Somehow I think Politically Incorrect would be more likely. Is that show still on?<g>

1HF
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Somehow I think Politically Incorrect would be more likely. Is that show still on? <g>

Unfortunately, Bill Maher got canned for displaying much the same characteristics as you possess on national television. Guess what? He's writing a book about it! <g>

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<<<What drives us to retire at an early age?>>>

Two thoughts.

One, death or near death. My best friend's mother died about two months after retirement with pancreatic cancer. Wasn't discovered until after she retired. So many plans unfulfilled. Plus a close friend having a near death experience due to complications from child birth. Drove home that tomorrow is never a given.

Two, I like my job but I'll quit when I feel I can't either physically do it anymore or my skills are slipping. Of course there is always the specter of government run medicine, then I'll quit immediately.

My long term goal is to do medical missions work. I currently do this, but I want to be in a position where I could go and do a month or so at a time instead of a week to 10 days.

JLC
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"Art, did your arms get as tired as mine did from cutting wood?"

Yes. I live in the middle of ten acres of trees on the side of a mountain/ridge. I could cut wood every day for the rest of my life and I don't think I'd really make a serious dent in it. Most suburbanites wouldn't like the un-manicured look of my surroundings. Good thing I'm not planning on selling! - Art
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"Plus a close friend having a near death experience due to complications from child birth. Drove home that tomorrow is never a given." - JLC

I am absolutely fascinated and spellbound by near death experiences (NDE's). Is there any way you can tell me more about it? Was it a full blown NDE like the ones described by Dr. Raymond Moody in "Life After Life?" I know that you are a busy doctor, what with saving lives and all (I'm not being facetious - I loved your pictures of China), but if you do have a minute or two and could either post here or email me a short version of it I would appreciate/enjoy it immensely. I've had a few chances to talk to a couple of nurses and a cardiac surgeon from UT hospital and they all had fascinating stories about patients of theirs who had NDE's. I've read the Dutch Study from the Lancet.
Thanks, - Art

Lancet/Dutch Study on NDE's

http://www.iands.org/dutch_study.html
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No. of Recommendations: 11
It took six months to sink in, but the reality of early retirement was suggested by a co-worker. We had been discussing SWR, and how much of a nest egg one needed to 'retire', and what expenses would be in retirement.

One of my co-workers was 61 at the time, had nearly 37 years with the company, and several pensions to collect (from this and prior predecessor companies), but continued to work and work. He could have retired at 55 with a very decent income, medical coverage, and lifestyle. He chose to continue working. He could have retired at 60, very very comfortably. At 62, he would have had a hard time spending his income. He said he was going to retire in Dec of 2002. If he did, it was 'reluctantly'. He had lots of 'hobbies', but working seemed to be nr 1 on the list.

I was 52 at the time, and had a big enough nest egg to retire comfortably. The 1990s stock market had helped a lot.

One day a co-worker asked 'would you come to work if you didn't get paid?' My older friend rambled and ranted about how he 'enjoyed'working and would retire 'soon'. Just a little bit longer..... he had 'projects to finish'.....'wasn't ready just yet'....

It then dawned upon me, that if I continued to pile up assets above and beyond what I needed for retirement, I was merely working toward paying a lot of current and future taxes!. I didn't 'need' the money. In fact, Unlce Sam would probably claim more than half of it (34% plus another 8 or 9% in Medicare/FICAs) immediately, and then take 55% of whatever I didn't get around to spending during my life in estate taxes. Or maybe up to 75% taxation, if I lived a few years and kicked the bucket! So I'm working for 25% of my pay, basically? hmmmmm!.....not a great return on the time I had to spend at 'work'.

I elected to take a buyout offer a few months later...and retire at 52.5 Worked had ceased to be 'fun' in the telecom engineering business. Too many Diblert sytle bosses running around,management playing games with budgets and accounts, no one willing to make long term decisions, etc. The industry had reached crisis conditions with megamergers, inflated business outlook and projections, money thrown at 'dot.com' adventures, and incredible unsustainable competition and price wars. It was not a hard decision to 'leave' the work force. Not when someone gave you a nice 'buyout' kick in the butt.

My friend decided to 'stick' with it a few more years....now, at over 65, he continues to 'work' just a little longer....after major heart problems in the past few years, other medical problems....a new retiremenmt house built that he seldom gets to because he is so 'busy'......and who knows what sort of life expectancy with his recently developed problems.......

He is exactly WHY I retired early. WOrk was fun and challenging at times. For years it had been mostly great. THey paid me well. I worked darn hard. Then the industry changed, the challenges disappeared, the incredible lack of direction and willingness by mgt to ever agree to do anything, the 'fast fix' solutions that never worked but could be 'claimed' to have fixed things (at least long enough for the mgr to be promoted), just drove me nuts. I didn't 'need' to work at that job. I didn't 'need' the extra money. I always was an LBYM type, but that wasn't required.

I had lots of other activities and goals I wanted to do. Working 40 hours a week for a salary was not one of them. I needed 3 months a year of 'vacation' and holidays to do what I wished to do.

Now, 4 years later, most of my co-workers are unemployed. Many are desperate to find new jobs, never believing that the debt and high consumption lifestyle they piled up during the fat years would come home to roost. Sad. And many suffered through 2 years of 'layoff rumors' week to week...not a great working environment.

WIth near 100% certainty, I'd be unemployed as well at this point..with no separation package to speak of....

It was time to get on with 'the rest of my life'. (hmmm....I heard that once or twice when I was laid off.....)...

Go back to work? I'd chop another 25-30% off my living expenses before I'd voluntarily go back to work......at least 40 hours a week.....

Starting around age 35-40, I got serious about saving money. IRAs and 401Ks happened. It was easy to buy stocks without high commissions. IT paid off.

I've been retired 4 years as of Dec 31, and have had a blast for the past 4 years seeing the world, getting to places near and far, and doing the things that require lots of time to do. No regrets at all.

Yes, I missed the 'professional interaction' if you want to call it that...but now nearly everyone I knew is gone, one way or the other...so nothing is 'left' of the former environment anyway. Sad commentary on the telecom business.

That's all behind me. THe rest of the folks have to get on with the 'rest of their lives' as well.



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art: Yes. I live in the middle of ten acres of trees on the side of a mountain/ridge. I could cut wood every day for the rest of my life and I don't think I'd really make a serious dent in it. Most suburbanites wouldn't like the un-manicured look of my surroundings. Good thing I'm not planning on selling! - Art

I lived on 5 acres in the middle of 10,000 acres, and after the house was built, I had enough firewood for the next 5 years.......I never raked leaves , other than to get them off the walkway from the gravel driveway to the doorway, so I didn't track them into the house.....it was as 'natural' as I could make it.....

I had a wood burning stove for a few years....and built fires whenever I felt like it.....

You could cut wood 2 hours a day, split wood for an hour (fortunately most were small diamer trees not requiring much splitting), and never make a dent in 10,000 acres of woods, no less 5 acres of fast growing trees. I wasn't going to try. SOme folks actually planted grass in this setting!....no grass in my 'yard'.....or within a 1/2 mile!....

The only time I got the chain saw out was when a tree fell in the road or got hit by lightning or died and might come down on top of something important (like car, antennas, house, power line, etc)..... and once a year for a weekend to cut up a winters worth of wood from the big pile of logs ...(two man operation).....

NOw I spend more time raking leaves on 0.3 acres of land in suburbia with 3 trees, two of which put out a gazillion leaves.

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<<I learned from my parents that our own mortality has an annoying habit of mucking up long-range plans, and that some of us don't ever make it to that nebulous "someday".

So I'm trying to reach "someday" sooner rather than later. :)

jobobb
>>


Where do you buy this ER motivation, anyway?


In my repair business today, I fixed a couple of people's fireplaces, correctly diagnosed a problem I hadn't gotten right a month ago (I think) and eliminated the ordinary causes of a problem for a fourth customer, but so far unable to identify the actual defect.

I had no boring meeting to attend, and no bosses to report to. I made good money that I don't really need, but will keep anyway, except that going to fund governments too numerous to mention.

If I had something better to do, I'd consider retiring. But I get to do things I'm good at, define my own hours, refuse work I'm not interested in doing, and generally avoid doing more work than I'm actually happy to do. Plus I got paid three times today.

When summer comes and few need my services, I'll go boating when it's warm and sunny.

I credit this board with helping me realize that I didn't need to work to maximaize my income, as I'd done for a couple of decades. Working too much made work WORK, and no fun. Now I'm pretty happy working ---I have a fairly powerful urge to be helpful to other people that is satisfied with my repair work, and I get paid to boot.

Now is that sick or is it sane? Sometimes I wonder when I read posts on this board.




Seattle Pioneer
Financially independent but not retired early, yet anyway
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SeattlePioneer wonders:

Now I'm pretty happy working ---I have a fairly powerful urge to be helpful to other people that is satisfied with my repair work, and I get paid to boot.

Now is that sick or is it sane? Sometimes I wonder when I read posts on this board.



It seems to me you've found a happy formula. Just because that formula wouldn't make someone else happy shouldn't cause you to doubt your choice. It is a wise man who knows what he needs to be happy.


But, hey, what about looking for something different to try that might be even more fulfilling? Perhaps you could combine your enjoyment of repairing things and your incredible reservoir of wisdom, and a willingness to share that, in some effort to help some young man learn a trade or learn how to be in business for himself, learn how to manage his money, how to make decisions, etc. Big brother? Check with volunteer and philanthropic organizations to see if there is a need that is perfectly suited to the things you enjoy?

Maybe somewhere out there in Seattle is a pupil waiting for the teacher to appear. You might be that teacher he is waiting for. If you don't look for him or at least make yourself available, he might not be able to find you.

The way I see it, you can easily continue working part-time and dabble in various other opportunities on the side. If one of them catches fire for you, then you can quit working entirely to devote more time to your new avocation.

The real question is, what would make you more happy than your repair business? If there's nothing else that would, then stick with your joy!

Regards, tmeri

-
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"NOw I spend more time raking leaves on 0.3 acres of land in suburbia with 3 trees, two of which put out a gazillion leaves." - telegraph

Do you miss your house in the woods? I am so attached to living where I don't have to worry about the neighbors feelings, doing what I want, I can't imagine living in a subdivision. I'm planning on staying in the woods till I can't take care of myself, then hoping to move into an assisted living arrangement. We'll see. "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." - Art
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<<But, hey, what about looking for something different to try that might be even more fulfilling? Perhaps you could combine your enjoyment of repairing things and your incredible reservoir of wisdom, and a willingness to share that, in some effort to help some young man learn a trade or learn how to be in business for himself, learn how to manage his money, how to make decisions, etc. Big brother? Check with volunteer and philanthropic organizations to see if there is a need that is perfectly suited to the things you enjoy?

Maybe somewhere out there in Seattle is a pupil waiting for the teacher to appear. You might be that teacher he is waiting for. If you don't look for him or at least make yourself available, he might not be able to find you.

The way I see it, you can easily continue working part-time and dabble in various other opportunities on the side. If one of them catches fire for you, then you can quit working entirely to devote more time to your new avocation.

The real question is, what would make you more happy than your repair business? If there's nothing else that would, then stick with your joy!

Regards, tmeri

>>


All good points. Actually, I have considered getting active again in the Boy Scouts, where I was a Scoutmaster for several years 15-20 years ago. I found that very rewarding. I even made some phone calls a couple of years ago, which weren't returned and which I didn't pursue.

I am too much of a stick in the mud, and in too much of a rut. So I agree with your comments, but haven't motivated myself to act on them. That's one of the real hazards of working, I suppose.




Seattle Pioneer

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<<"NOw I spend more time raking leaves on 0.3 acres of land in suburbia with 3 trees, two of which put out a gazillion leaves." - telegraph

Do you miss your house in the woods? I am so attached to living where I don't have to worry about the neighbors feelings, doing what I want, I can't imagine living in a subdivision. I'm planning on staying in the woods till I can't take care of myself, then hoping to move into an assisted living arrangement. We'll see. "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." - Art

>>


So Art, do you cut the wood to feed a wood stove and heat your home? What other similar tasks and labors do you perform to maintain your self sufficiency in the world?



Seattle Pioneer
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I retired at age 60 when I suddenly discovered via this board that I could. I had been a librarian at San Francisco Public Library for 32 years, and loved my job until a $101,000,000 bond issue was passed to build a New Main Library. The proposition to build needed 2/3rds of the vote to pass, and the biggest argument for it was that the old Main no longer held the collection, which was true--we had outgrown our old building in 1947--and only through a number of creative space finding measures had continued to do business.

Our city librarian at the time loved technology and was a great proponent of The Electronic Library (in fact, he wrote the book). We spent the $101,000,000 plus $35,000,000 more privately raised dollars for furnishings, hardware, equipment, and ended up with a building full of comptuers and wiring but that had less shelving room than the old (!). The staff was in an uproar claiming they had not been listened to, the library board, public relations office and top management were in denial and/or engaged in spinning defensive tales to cover their asses, and the newspapers were full of articles about the New Main, some of which defended the modern building I.M. Pei and a local firm had designed (in SF you have to involve a local firm somehow, minority or women at top of list) and some of which exposed the scandal.

The public was divided. Those who came in just to look at the new building loved and praised it for the most part, and it won several big national architectural awards. People who came in to actually use the library were confused by its impossibly complicated layout, angered that they couldn't find the stacks and stacks of books they used to enjoy browsing through in the Old Main, and baffled by all the new technology and the loss of the old card catalog, which was dispensed with even though half the collection was not yet online.

The shelves were full and overflowing when it opened (you should design a new library for at least 25 years growth), and a grimy but huge (full of "feral cats" is how the angered union described it) basement site that the city had used for convention exhibits in past times, and that was adjacent to the New Main, was quickly given over to the library.

Tons of library materials, including 9 miles of bound periodicals and many of the city's archives were stored in that area and remain there today, although eventually the city is going to spend more millions to make corrections and rent or buy another building to house administration and technical services. The problem was acknowledged by Mayor Willie Brown and the Board of Supervisors only after a huge, expensive study was done by library director consultants hired from Seattle, LA, Dallas, and by an architectural firm not involved with the original design.

Nicholas Baker wrote an article about SFPL's situation in the New Yorker, which led to his later book Double Fold, which won a National Book Award last year I believe, and Nicolas Basbanes has a chapter on it in his recent book Pateience & Fortitude:a Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places and Book Culture.

We moved into the New Main in 1996. Before this debacle, I had planned to work until I was 65 thinking that I would need every bit of savings and retirement pay I could get to insure living life in San Francisco comfortably, and because I liked my job.

However, during the New Main years the library was no longer a fun place to work for the most part, and stress was an everyday event. I began to dread the years ahead.

In 1999, at age 59, I somehow stumbled onto the Retire Early Board on Motley Fool and began reading. Using some of what I learned I looked more closely at what I would need to live and how much I had. I discovered that I already had more than enough to live for at least 30 years, even if I stayed in San Francisco, and if I moved to a place with a lower cost of living I would have trouble spending the money I already had ! I couldn't believe it. Should I retire? Could I do all those things there was never time to do? It was hard to believe but seemed to be true.

A year of thinking about it and reading posts from others who had done it and so did I and am now a most happy camper. I realize 60 is not really "early retired", but this board game me 5 years of extra time to call my own, a life I enjoy thoroughly and I am indeed grateful.

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catmeyoo posts,

I had been a librarian at San Francisco Public Library for 32 years, and loved my job until a $101,000,000 bond issue was passed to build a New Main Library.

The public was divided. Those who came in just to look at the new building loved and praised it for the most part, and it won several big national architectural awards. People who came in to actually use the library were confused by its impossibly complicated layout, angered that they couldn't find the stacks and stacks of books they used to enjoy browsing through in the Old Main, and baffled by all the new technology and the loss of the old card catalog, which was dispensed with even though half the collection was not yet online.

We moved into the New Main in 1996.


Thanks for posting--now I know "the rest of the story". I lived in SF 1996-1997. I like to read, so I began to spend my time in my neighborhood's branch library. As I recall, it was a comfortable place to curl up with a good book.

However there were a few times when I ventured to the main library and I do remember being confused by the layout. I also had the feeling that the design might have been more appropiate for a museum.
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Unfortunately, Bill Maher got canned for displaying much the same characteristics as you possess on national television. Guess what? He's writing a book about it! <g>

Too bad about the job loss, but I guess it comes with the territory. The book should be interesting. There's a show called Rough Crowd or Tough Crowd or something similar on the Comedy Channel that's sorta similar to Politically Incorrect, but it serves mainly to balance Jon Stewart's Daily Bush Bash.

1HF


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Congratulations, catmeyoo!

Heck, retiring at ANY age counts as "early retirement" in my book. <smile>

Look at all the people who never get there. Great post.

bill2975
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Now is that sick or is it sane? Sometimes I wonder when I read posts on this board.

If it works for you, it is sane. We sometimes make too much of the word "retired". Maybe independence from "income based labor" is more appropriate. The FI in FIRE allows us to have a Realigned Existence of our choosing. I think The RealignedExistedHomePage would require way too much explanation. <grin>

1HF
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But they don't understand--being an "I" doesn't always mean that one is shy or anti-social--rather it has more to do with a strong desire for independence and the need to withdraw to recharge ones batteries.

Some of my most pleasurable work experiences were very social and I enjoy focused socialization. I was once a member of a team of very dedicated people who were all focused on a common goal. Our product was a concept/system/infrastructure and while our goal was to produce something that was stable, reliable and predicatable, our product needed the "beauty" of being impervious to criticism. Anticipating, analyzing, designing, engineering, testing, teaching, studying, and finally presenting all required intense focus. Our effort was so successful that it steamrolled it's detractors and Microsoft hired our team leader to lead a technical team in their ZAWI (zero administration workstation initiative) effort.

One interesting note about ISTPs according to the book "Lifetypes". It said that this type will work as long as we find work interesting. However when we no longer do, then we will attempt to retire early!

The mnemonic for my MBTI (INTP) is "It's Not Theoretically Possible". I used to have a sign on my desk that said "The Difficult is Routine, but the Impossible will Take a Little While and Cost a Little More". Now my greatest challenge is to remain FI with a suitable lifestyle and I'm loving that challenge.

1HF


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<<In 1999, at age 59, I somehow stumbled onto the Retire Early Board on Motley Fool and began reading. Using some of what I learned I looked more closely at what I would need to live and how much I had. I discovered that I already had more than enough to live for at least 30 years, even if I stayed in San Francisco, and if I moved to a place with a lower cost of living I would have trouble spending the money I already had ! I couldn't believe it. Should I retire? Could I do all those things there was never time to do? It was hard to believe but seemed to be true.

A year of thinking about it and reading posts from others who had done it and so did I and am now a most happy camper. I realize 60 is not really "early retired", but this board game me 5 years of extra time to call my own, a life I enjoy thoroughly and I am indeed grateful.

>>


Good story, and more evidence that intercst and this board contribute to improving human freedom and liberty.


Now I have to ask---

Now that you are retired from the San Francisco Public Library, do you buy most of your own books, go to the main library you retired from in sorrow or disgust, or visit a branch library?

Any advice on how people should get more use out of their local libraries, or what most libraries ought to do to be more effective in serving the needs of people?



Seattle Pioneer


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"So Art, do you cut the wood to feed a wood stove and heat your home? What other similar tasks and labors do you perform to maintain your self sufficiency in the world?" - Seattle Pioneer

Actually, no. We do have a nice fireplace with a "heatilator" some kind of fan setup that blows air around some kind of metal insert in the fireplace, but we only use that when our power goes out, which happens quite often. I cut up some wood, and we do make a few fires, but it is not our main source of heat. We have a heat pump. I think it's a "1 ton?" When we put it in - it cut our electric bills in half. In the summer and winter (air conditioning and heat) our electric bills run about $150/month. In the spring and fall (no heat or air) they are around $59. We have two refrigerators and a 15 cubic ft chest freezer that we make good use of. We keep the extra refrigerator out in the garage. It saves us from having to shop as much and we buy a lot of stuff at Sam's Club. I put all kinds of stuff in the freezer. Right now I've got 99 cent/lb whole salmon in there, 19 cent/lb chicken legs, deer meat, etc. My wife is a vegetarian and we keep some veggie type stuff in there. - Art
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(in SF you have to involve a local firm somehow, minority or women at top of list)

When I lived in Silicon Valley I used a small computer shop occasionally. The shop was started by a retired electrical engineer and most of the work was done by his son, something of a computer whiz. But the place was "woman-owned" because they made the founder's wife the offical owner. That way they could more successfully bid on small government contracts.

I encountered the "owner" several times as she sometimes worked behind the counter. She barely had the technical savvy to operate the credit card machine.

But it was California, all part of a normal day's experience.

--fleg
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((Now I have to ask--Now that you are retired from the San Francisco Public Library, do you buy most of your own books, go to the main library you retired from in sorrow or disgust, or visit a branch library?

Any advice on how people should get more use out of their local libraries, or what libraries ought to do to be more effective in serving the needs of people?))

Hi Seattle Pioneer,
Last year I moved from San Francisco to a tiny town in western Nebraska (pop. 5,000 or so), 2 hours south of Rapid City (where there is a Border's and where you can buy the Sunday NYTimes), and 5 hours north of Denver (where there is a GREAT independent local bookstore—Tattered Cover). I get to one or the other every few months, but mostly buy my books from half.com and occasionally Amazon if I just can't wait for something and if they have one of their shipping specials. There is a small local library here with a pitiful book budget, but they manage to keep up with most of the best sellers and popular authors. You can also use their inter-library loan system, but the local board still makes you pay for postage—which is a sore point with me since I know how the ill system works.
There is also a small state college here, and town people can use the college library freely. I find that a handy resource, especially for magazines and newspapers.

Libraries are an incredible resource, and most librarians just love to provide free services and information. Interlibrary loan is or should be available in almost any local library, and a person should be able to get almost anything he or she wants for free or for pennies. It is always surprising to me how many people still don't know that libraries will also answer information questions by phone (some with a 24-hours service) fax, online. And library web sites wait in line to be helpful to people, with improvements in that service growing by leaps and bounds.

One fine site started by a colleague from Berkeley, Carol Leita:
http://www.lii.org

Another that can lead a person to great library sites:
http://www.libraryspot.com

There are of course many others that people can cite.

And most larger libraries now purchase for-fee information databases, pay the fee for the public, and with your free library card number you can access these databases without restraint and for free. The State Library of California is working on what is called The Library of California—this will mean your single library card provides access to all resources, book, databases, special files, provided by any library in California. It is a multitype cooperative too, including public, academic and most special libraries--so you would have access to all their services, many of which are online.

I know it is still possible that when you walk into your local public library you may get treated poorly (hopefully the exception, not the rule). Public service can be draining and often the front line librarian (if you are lucky enough to get a librarian—many townships still do not understand why you need “professionals”) may also be dealing with bizarre management decisions from administration or local boards.

I had such an experience when I first moved here. I wanted to sell an old car that belonged to my mother and called the local library to ask for a blue book price. I was told very haughtily that I must come in and look that up for myself. I immediately called San Francisco, got the science desk (automotive science resides there) and had the figures I wanted within two minutes.

I am rambling on and on and my son is telling me to get off so he can play Mafia—so I'll go cook some chili. Thanks for asking. Support your public library!


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WWL questions:

>>>>>
What drives us to retire at an early age?
>>>>>

What a great way to kick off the discussion on the New Year. I just made it through the entire thread after nursing the worst hangover I have had in years.

Reading real-life stories like this are giving me the courage to make this decision on my own. As many of you know, I am finiancially independent and can retire today, but I want to hang in there to give myself a little bit more of an age.

I've recently decided that i will wait until March, 2 weeks before my 2 year anniversary here on site to tell my boss my plans. I'll offer that I will go Part Time on call, without being called for at least 6 months, starting 7 June (the day before I turn 41). If the company balks at that in any way I'll give my 2 weeks notice. If they agree, and I find I am being treated negatively in any way because I have made this decision (while working March to June), I'll take all my vacation and resign with 2 weeks notice. Best case is, I'm not working, but still on my companies books, come the beginning of June. This will allow me to periodically put in some time and start my clock again for Cobra (if I want).

I want to thank the board for taking their time sharing their experiences. It's given me the knowledge and courage to take that leap myself.

My wishes for a healthy and happy FIRE in 2003!

-reb
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I haven't posted on REHP for a while, probably because my retirement savings has shrunk each of the last three years. I found a great quote just recently that sums up my attitude toward work:

There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there. -Indira Gandhi

The telecomm industry is overrun with pretenders and butt-kissers. I have never had a job where I could just be myself and not have to hide three-fourths of my intelligence. Beside the fact that my work is so pointless, I have so many interests that I am passionate about. My knowledge is worth little in the marketplace, though.

Fortunately, I'll soon be trading places with my wife as she graduates and I return to school. I'll get this career thing right or I'll retire trying. Then life begins.
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For the most part, I like my job, but I want to enjoy more time with my kids while they are still kids.
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"Should I pay done my mortgage...My large cash position only pays 1 to 2 %".

If you think that you will be out of the market for 2003,I would pay down your mortgage since it probably is costing you more per year then what you are currently earning on your cash position.
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Hey, while browsing for some real estate posts for Catherine, I found my reply to the same question posed in this thread nearly two years ago.

I was still in the rat race when I answered it then, but I'm pleased to report that my 25 motivators were indeed accurate. <grin>

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14670551&sort=recommendations

Golfwaymore
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<<"Should I pay done my mortgage...My large cash position only pays 1 to 2 %".

If you think that you will be out of the market for 2003,I would pay down your mortgage since it probably is costing you more per year then what you are currently earning on your cash position.
>>


I'd keep ample cash available in case the economy turns south. That might cause some to lose jobs still, and it might create choice buying opportunities for stocks, real estate or other things.

The pit of a recession is a time to keep your cash aavailable, in my view. Once we are definitely out of a recession, you income is secure and there are no good buying opportunities, then I'd put money into paying down a mortgage.



Seattle Pioneer
Still looking for a great buying opportunity
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For the most part, I like my job, but I want to enjoy more time with my kids while they are still kids.


Wow, this is why I quit my PhD. The choice was "finish PhD" and "listen to teenagers who need you NOW". I chose the kids and have never regretted it.

arrete
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I'm an "I" in a world dominated by "E"s...the "E" belief is a black/white belief that people who are almost non-social are against (anti) them, because "E"s have a higher need for social interaction and "I"s don't fill that need. OTOH, the "I" belief is that independence is not a moral or us vs. them issue and that shades of gray are normal.

As someone who has repeatedly (in MB testing) fallen right on the line between "I" and "E", I see your point exactly.

Careful, though, in calling the "E's" the black/white believers. In the MBTI world, that characteristic -- the one of perceiving things as either-or versus a continuum -- is addressed by the Perceiving/Judging element. Technically, the only "E's" who would fulfill your statement are the E**J's.
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Careful, though, in calling the "E's" the black/white believers. In the MBTI world, that characteristic -- the one of perceiving things as either-or versus a continuum -- is addressed by the Perceiving/Judging element. Technically, the only "E's" who would fulfill your statement are the E**J's.

Point taken. Thanks. I really prefer the leader-follower-loner triangular diagram I once saw (not sure where). A circle is overlaid on a triangle such that the points of the triangle fall outside the circle, but the circle is large enough that three sections of it fall outside the sides of the triangle. The points of the triangle are labeled Leader, Follower and Loner and represent the 100% extreme where you have a near balance of the other two characteristics but they are completely overwhelmed by the dominant characteristic. The sides opposite each point represent the zero of that point's characteristic and varying degrees of the other two points. The inside of the circle is Sanity and the Outside is Insanity. You really want your personality to fall within both the triangle and the circle. IOW, if you are purely a leader, loner or follower, with no component of the other two, you are insane. If you fall outside the triangle but inside the circle, you are marginally sane, but extremely conflicted because you have an extreme aversion to the opposite triangle point(try being half follower and half loner with a strong aversion to leaders and you'll see the conflict).

I guess that might be hard to picture in your head, but if you draw it, it makes sense. There's a set of questions that helps you find yourself in the picture. I placed inside the loner tridrant and inside the circle, but close to the edge of sanity. I wish I could remember how to find this thing, because it predicted I would find happiness in isolation with one or two very close friends and that's pretty much what happened.

1HF
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I think Joe Dominguez (Your Money Or Your Life) said it best when he described the "Fulfillment Curve".

I am reaching the point where I feel like I'm on a treadmill to get and pay for more "stuff"... and the time I have to enjoy that "stuff" is becoming more and more scarce; both in terms of remaining years of life and in terms of how many hours there are in a day.

The only way I have to spend more time enjoying myself (maximizing my fulfillment) is to spend less time working... and becoming financially independent so I can retire early seems to me to be the way I can "catch the peak of the curve".
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Kidd,

You do know that was just a movie, right? RIGHT?

:)

Petey



It would be fun to be like the guy on Office Space who just was laid back and wandered in and out of the office when he felt like it and see how long before I got fired!!!!
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Hi cat,

It might be of interest to some readers to hear how you built up a sufficient nest egg.

Thanks,
Petey


I retired at age 60 when I suddenly discovered via this board that I could. I had been a librarian at San Francisco Public Library for 32 years, and loved my job until a $101,000,000 bond issue was passed to build a New Main Library. The proposition to build needed 2/3rds of the vote to pass, and the biggest argument for it was that the old Main no longer held the collection, which was true--we had outgrown our old building in 1947--and only through a number of creative space finding measures had continued to do business.

Our city librarian at the time loved technology and was a great proponent of The Electronic Library (in fact, he wrote the book). We spent the $101,000,000 plus $35,000,000 more privately raised dollars for furnishings, hardware, equipment, and ended up with a building full of comptuers and wiring but that had less shelving room than the old (!). The staff was in an uproar claiming they had not been listened to, the library board, public relations office and top management were in denial and/or engaged in spinning defensive tales to cover their asses, and the newspapers were full of articles about the New Main, some of which defended the modern building I.M. Pei and a local firm had designed (in SF you have to involve a local firm somehow, minority or women at top of list) and some of which exposed the scandal.

The public was divided. Those who came in just to look at the new building loved and praised it for the most part, and it won several big national architectural awards. People who came in to actually use the library were confused by its impossibly complicated layout, angered that they couldn't find the stacks and stacks of books they used to enjoy browsing through in the Old Main, and baffled by all the new technology and the loss of the old card catalog, which was dispensed with even though half the collection was not yet online.

The shelves were full and overflowing when it opened (you should design a new library for at least 25 years growth), and a grimy but huge (full of "feral cats" is how the angered union described it) basement site that the city had used for convention exhibits in past times, and that was adjacent to the New Main, was quickly given over to the library.

Tons of library materials, including 9 miles of bound periodicals and many of the city's archives were stored in that area and remain there today, although eventually the city is going to spend more millions to make corrections and rent or buy another building to house administration and technical services. The problem was acknowledged by Mayor Willie Brown and the Board of Supervisors only after a huge, expensive study was done by library director consultants hired from Seattle, LA, Dallas, and by an architectural firm not involved with the original design.

Nicholas Baker wrote an article about SFPL's situation in the New Yorker, which led to his later book Double Fold, which won a National Book Award last year I believe, and Nicolas Basbanes has a chapter on it in his recent book Pateience & Fortitude:a Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places and Book Culture.

We moved into the New Main in 1996. Before this debacle, I had planned to work until I was 65 thinking that I would need every bit of savings and retirement pay I could get to insure living life in San Francisco comfortably, and because I liked my job.

However, during the New Main years the library was no longer a fun place to work for the most part, and stress was an everyday event. I began to dread the years ahead.

In 1999, at age 59, I somehow stumbled onto the Retire Early Board on Motley Fool and began reading. Using some of what I learned I looked more closely at what I would need to live and how much I had. I discovered that I already had more than enough to live for at least 30 years, even if I stayed in San Francisco, and if I moved to a place with a lower cost of living I would have trouble spending the money I already had ! I couldn't believe it. Should I retire? Could I do all those things there was never time to do? It was hard to believe but seemed to be true.

A year of thinking about it and reading posts from others who had done it and so did I and am now a most happy camper. I realize 60 is not really "early retired", but this board game me 5 years of extra time to call my own, a life I enjoy thoroughly and I am indeed grateful.
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Oh Pete, it was luck all the way and you'll be sorry you asked.

This first part reads like a bad soap opera, but here it is:

I paid no attention to saving a dime, and spent everything I made running up all kinds of debts for the first 15 years of my post schooling work life.

At 35 I had my only child; my then husband and I soon divorced (it is one thing to live with an alcoholic--it is quite another to live with an alcoholic and his child) and he paid as much support as he could until our son was about 5, but then he lost his job again, got cancer soon thereafter and died 1 year later with no insurance.

Now throughout this romance and for the next 20 years I was working for the city library. San Francisco is a big union town and librarians have a strong guild within the Miscellaneous Employees Union. As a result, librarians in San Francisco receive the highest salaries of any public library professionals in the country—a Librarian entry level at SFPL was paying something like $60,000 in 2000—benchmarks are set for librarians in the same category as city architects and engineers. My salary, even as I moved into management, wasn't a lot of money in expensive San Francisco, but it was quite enough for a single parent to raise a child and have a decent, even comfortable standard of living.

Had I stayed until I was 67 I would have retired with something like 80% of my salary (I was still under the old city plan—the new plan the highest you can get is 75%).

As it is I retired with 66% of my final year's pay with a 3% cola and an excellent medical plan. I pay $55 a month for full coverage, including prescriptions, and a $250 annual deductible. If I had stayed in San Francisco I would have remained with Kaiser Permamente of Northern California (outstanding health care) and would have paid no deductible, nothing a month, $5 per office visit and $5.00 per prescription. (That has to give probably in the future the way things are going—but it was only a few years ago that the $5 per visit was implemented)

After my son was born I decided I better try to grow up, so the first thing I did was enroll in the 457 Hartford plan the city began offering employees on top of the pension plan. I continued to make contributions to that for 25 years, uping my contribution whenever we got a good raise, and finally maxing out for the last 10 years or so. When I enrolled I didn't have a clue as to mutual funds, index funds, bonds, general savings funds—so followed Hartford's advice and put 1/3 in stock, 1/3 in bonds and 1/3 in general savings, and was content with that until about 1986, when I started getting more interested in personal finances, and decided I could do better. I should never have done that because I moved a lot of money into stocks in 1986, and soon thereafter, when the market tanked, I moved it all out and into the general fund, only to see the market go up again soon. I left the funds where they were through inertia until about 1995 when I moved most of it back into the one market index fund program Hartford offered (upon the advice of a more savvy friend). Somewhere in those years the city went from Hartford to ING and that's been fine.

Again, though, I was just so lucky. By 1999 the amount in the 457 had grown substantially, which is when the library was driving me crazy, and which is when I found the Motley Fool and especially Retire Early and started studying everything everyone was saying with avid interest. Until that time I had been mostly suspicious of or bored by things I looked at or read on finance. Suddenly everything I was reading on the board was interesting. Spending money wasn't so much fun, thinking of ways not to spend money was. I admired the people posting and enjoyed thoroughly what people were saying. I read all of the books on interct's web site and that other posters recommended and was smitten.

I started thinking seriously of the possibility of retiring. I looked at 4% withdrawal from my 457 and realized that if I only took that per year, that that amount, plus my pension would mean I had more money than I had working, and at 62 I could get social security, too, if I wanted. It was an amazing realization for me. I walked around as if I had a winning lottery ticket hidden in my pocket.

So I decided to retire. I would have stayed in San Francisco, which I love, but my mom became very ill and died about the time I was retiring. I went home to be with her a couple weeks before she died, and she was so worried about her cats and what would happen to them (she had two—each about 16 years old). I assured her I would make sure they were taken care of. After she died I inherited her house, and the money she had hoarded away, which was not inconsequential since she was a saver. I began to get greedy. I began to think about how much more money I would have and how cheaply I could live if I left San Francisco—and then there were those two cats. So I decided I would just move back to this little town with its low cost of living, stay two years so I could then sell without paying taxes if I wanted to, save a bunch more money, at the end of that time see if the cats were still alive, and then if I did want to return to the City (or the Oregon or Washington coastline) do so. I will have been here two years in February, one of the cats is dead but the other is alive, and I recently acquired 2 new kittens who adore me—and there is a lot I like about being here, and a lot I miss so the decision is up in the air.

I am still reading RE religiously and still learning—I had a long way to go.

My advice:
I didn't set out to end up in a government job in a rich city with a strong union of tough and articulate women defending my profession's status, but that is where I ended up and I would advise someone like me to do the same if possible when thinking about her financial future.



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Interesting story, Cat. Thanks for that.

I'm sure a lot of people will read your post with interest like I did.

Petey


I am still reading RE religiously and still learning—I had a long way to go.

My advice:
I didn't set out to end up in a government job in a rich city with a strong union of tough and articulate women defending my profession's status, but that is where I ended up and I would advise someone like me to do the same if possible when thinking about her financial future.
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Catmeyoo ~


I enjoyed your story and it leads me to think about my own situation.

One of my ER strategies involves transitioning from corporate America (wealth accumulation phase) to perhaps a position in the public sector that I would enjoy more than what I do now and preferably one with good benefits.

I currently live in a right-to-work state with a high cost of living, so a move is somewhere in my future, but probably not all the way out to the west coast.

I'm wondering out loud what other geographic areas and professions are "woman-friendly" and "worker friendly"?



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HoneyRyder writes:
One of my ER strategies involves transitioning from corporate America (wealth accumulation phase) to perhaps a position in the public sector that I would enjoy more than what I do now and preferably one with good benefits.

I currently live in a right-to-work state with a high cost of living, so a move is somewhere in my future, but probably not all the way out to the west coast.

I'm wondering out loud what other geographic areas and professions are "woman-friendly" and "worker friendly"?


What are you interested in doing? I think of nurses, teachers, attorneys, engineers, architects, clerks, accountants, law enforcement, etc. all the possibilities for a govt. job. Perhaps people will have insights to offer. Selecting something you love the thought of doing and believe in makes all the difference, whether you already have the skills or will have to get them first. I choose my librarian career after taking a two-day battery of skills and personality tests administered at Denver University to help students decide what they they might like to do. Interestingly enough, my test results indicated I would probably be happy and productive as a mathematician a musician or a librarian. I chose librarian, and it could not have been more right for me.

I have only worked west of the Mississippi (in Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and California) so do not know anything about how it works in the east, other than the fact that New York City has a pretty good pay scale and benefit plan for librarians.

In South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada, the pay scale for women in state or city public service fields, especially those traditionally filled by women, is pretty low. I taught high school in South Dakota and Nevada and started my librarian career in Colorado and Wyoming, all during my 20's. In all 4 of those states there was a repressive atmosphere in the work place. (I didn't realize how much until I started working on the west coast).

At 29 I got to San Francisco and stayed put for 31 years. Not only was the pay and benefits package outstanding, but the work climate was more open and creative, “bosses” were less authoritative, new employees were given more responsibility, less oversight. You were treated like the “professional” you thought you were. As a staff member you could speak your mind, offer suggestions about new ways of doing things, or even just do them without asking. You could challenge the ideas of someone higher up on the food chain without ruffling feathers and living in fear it might jeopardize your job. I have heard good things about Los Angeles Public and Seattle Public as well.

My mother worked for the Farmer's Home Administration as a stenographer in a little town in Nebraska, and received federal pay scale and benefits. She had one of the best jobs in town (and loved it) and an excellent retirement package which she was always grateful for the 25 years she lived after her retirement.







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Thanks Cat for your speedy response :)

Do you recall the name of the two day battery you took?

I'm thinking something like that would be very helpful to me.


When I think of areas I love - I think back to my days of tutoring foreign languages, teaching anthropology and linguistics, leading foreign study programs, etc. All the things I used to do before I realized I needed to start growing a real nest egg. Now that I have most of that egg, it seems it would afford me the opportunity to take a lower paying, but more soul-fulfilling job. Not only that, but like many people, as I get older, benefits outstrip salary in terms of importance.

Thanks for the food for thought!

HR
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Do you recall the name of the two day battery you took?


I'm sorry, I don't. It was in 1963 and I remember it cost me $100 (the university contracted with a private firm perhaps to offer it).

After the written tests were completed and scored I then had a helpful 60 minute face-to-face interview with a consultant, and received a lengthy and interesting document about the findings along with practical suggestions (which I regrettably lost somehow years ago—probably in all that moving from job to job and state to state). I think something like this is well worth the money and time.

It's great that you are now considering public service and I'm sure there are opportunities given your skills and interests.



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