FIRE - how did YOU start?

Financial Independence/Retire Early -- Learn How!
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FIRE - how did YOU start?

Post by KL237 » Thu Feb 12, 2004 7:14 am

I've been getting some great feedback about my plans and I really appreciate it all.
It got me wondering - for all of you out there with FIRE goals, how/when did you start?

Looking forward to your stories! :D

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Post by mia » Thu Feb 12, 2004 8:46 am

Hi Kl237, I started thinking about FIRE after reading the tightwad gazette. I can't say I followed all of the ideas. I don't wash out my ziploc bags, but it is the first time the idea occurred to me that I might be able to RE. Currently have a one year old and a 5 year old. You have probably heard it before, but save before you have children. We are doing okay currently work 4 to 11pm while my husband works days. Anyways save as much as you can now! I am undecided on how much of a nest egg we should have. We could stop working in 10 years if we decide not to do a lot of traveling.

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Post by TRyan » Thu Feb 12, 2004 9:42 am

For me it was 25 when I bought my first rental property. Would go on to buy 9 units with no money down (can you say "young n'stupid"). These nearly bankrupted me when the recession hit in the early ninties and everything was upside-down (owe more than they're worth). That's when I learned how to be a tight-wad - dug in, and kept the day job. Sold each of these units breaking about even (minus some sweat, blood and tear) around 2000. Yes, it took 12 years to turn right-side-up.

The lessons in those years were priceless because I bought 14 more units at the preverbial bottom. And now knew how to get blood from a stone. Some I still carry today.
"Buy Low Sell High"

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Post by MikeInDallasTX » Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:16 pm

I started considering FIRE around the time of my 18th birthday. It was at that point that I began to map out my life goals and figure out when I want to be financially free (I actually don't want to ever "retire", as I enjoy work too much).

For me, FIRE goes hand-in-hand with LBYM (Live Below Your Means). Two things helped me begin on LBYM: Reading Dr. Thomas J. Stanley's The Millionaire Next Door, and my Microsoft Money expense reports. The former gave me an idea of how wealthy individuals truly spend, and the latter showed me my own spending mistakes. I used to be a big spender, spending 90+% of my income on discretionary expenses, but I've since improved quite a bit. I've gotten my total annual expenses (university education, room and board, "going out", etc.) down to ~$8K/year, which while I'd still like to decrease further, is a figure that allows me to invest quite a bit of my income towards future financial independence.

Another influence that got me started on FIRE was seeing what's happened to people who haven't planned for retirement. I know seniors who are still having to work, and I know individuals in their fifties who have absolutely no retirement money set aside. Retirement can't just be a wish; it must be a plan.


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Post by ben » Sun Feb 15, 2004 5:53 pm

Welcome onboard! And congrats on your early start - which almost no matter what will bring you to FI sooner than you think. 8)

I guess my FI(RE)-walk was taken in steps:

I was 26 and had just sold an apartment - with a profit of around $25K when I started truly saving. Besides that I had done the usual consumer mistakes - especially drinks/dinners out. From my parents I got the attitude of no debt, and I generally bought things on sale/used whenever possible, so the $25K jump started the savings process beyond my emergency fund.

I have since worked abroad for 8 years and a combination of LBYM and no taxes/good company package increased the savings rate dramatically.
That lead me too spread sheets/targets and more investments (and study of same).

Only within the last 3 years did I realize that my efforts were paying off and that FI(RE) suddenly became a very realistic possibility soon. That realization speeded up my efforts even further in both the LBYM/saving department as well as the investment department. - The shark smelled blood! :lol:

One thing I did(and do) was to celebrate each stepping stone somehow - E.g. each $10k or $50k or $100k or whatever is within realistic time frame should be celebrated with a beer/wine/champagne and a cigar - with 1 of my good friends having same targets.

I target to reach my FI-target end this year - fill the cooler with champagne, pull out a Romeo and Julliett no.5 and celebrate! Will keep you posted on this board when/if the day comes!

RE not in the cards yet for me - but who knows...? It is the FI that is important for me. 8)
Normal; to put on clothes bought for work, go to work in car bought to get to work needed to pay for the clothes, the car and the home left empty all day in order to afford to live in it...

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Post by JonnyM » Mon Jun 28, 2004 10:19 am

It was a completely independent family decision. I was 43 1/2, she 43, and we were recently recovered from being penniless after our respective relationship splits. We both discovered we had our DBP retirements intact with no possibility of our Ex's ever touching those assets.

Upon further investigation I determined that the Government we worked for permited retirements as early as age 50 with 5 years of service. From there it became a math formula to determine if we could financially survive an ER in 7 years, or 2005. Our incomes were beginning to generate more than our expenses - we slowly ramped up contributions to a 457 plan to enhance the DBP. I knew nothing of SWR's or reasonble market returns, it was the time of bullsville, I conservatively (I thought I was, I really had no clue it turns out) thought I'd realize 12 percent a year and we'd each end up with 100K in each of our 457's.

The Retirement Formula indicated we'd end up with about $30K per year plus whatever we gleaned from our 200K taxfree (to date) at 50 1/2, and 50 ages respective. Not the lap of luxury, but seemed doable, or house would be just about paid off, expenses would lessen. It seemed a worthy goal, and very acheivable.

Of course life has a habit of getting in the way...

Things didn't quite work out as planned...

About 3 years ago, The Local Government we both worked for, after years of magnicificant, better than market performance, reworked our retirement formula to something called 2/55 - A Good Thing. The Formula improved, by a factor of about 33 percent to the good!

About 2 years ago, DW was injured severely on the job. After months and months of treatment, County fired her, all benefits ceased, and we had to empty DW's 457 savings via hardship loophole to make ends meet. - A Bad Bad Thing.

Two Months ago, Local Government grants a Service Connected Disability Retirement to DW, basically a benefit comparable to the potential ER at 50, she is 48 1/2. A Huge Relief.

DW is now completely FIRE with no possibility of ever going back to anything like her old job. For the priviledge of playing with pain everyday of her life she brings home 30K w/colas

No that DW is FIRE and my position within my organization has recently improved, I am going to try to hold out to 2007 at age 52. Those extra 2 years will allow me to make up for lost 457 opportunities by maxing my contributions using the 'catchup' provisions of the 457 law.

I hope to end up with an DBP of 36K w/colas plus somewhere between 100k and 200k in the non-taxed nestegg. 10 years later if SS decides they'd like to send us another 1K each, that'll be just fine. Time for that trip to Europe.

Moral of Story. Don't dismiss Goverment service when plotting FIRE. Ther retirement plans are strong, and you have absolutely NO choice but to participate. The 457 allows the dedicated saver the chance to make a good ER even better. I only figured it out 6 years ago. Knowing before that would not have helped me because of circumstances, someone else would have benfitted. Yet I am still going to get there at what I consider a very excellent ER age.

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Post by BenSolar » Tue Jun 29, 2004 5:46 am

Hola, again, Jonny. Great post. :great: I made some comments and asked some questions in another thread, so I won't repeat those here. One thing though: you are using a 457 plan as your supplemental savings. The one I have available has some pretty harsh expenses tacked onto already expensive funds, so I'm using our 401k, which is better, but is still not so good: not a lot of good index options to choose from. Do you have some pretty good options in your 457?

As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm coming up on 5 years service, so I'll be vested in my DBP. I haven't delved into the details yet, but I guess I will now that I'll be vested soon. I'm 37, so I've got quite a ways before I can access that income stream. I vaguely recall that ours is similar to yours in that you have to be 50 to ER unless you have 25 years service. I had never intended to stick with the county until age 50, but that is a backup plan, one that I might need for the medical benefits.

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for." - Epicurus

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