I'm going to chime in about HELOC's. We had 2 Helocs, and both were frozen. We got them both about 10 years ago, when the banks were lending to anything that fogged a mirror. Both were for 150K CL's, and attached to paid off properties at less than 50% loan to value, and used to buy investment property.
They were frozen for different reasons. One was frozen after our banker suggested a credit line increase on it, and the Underwriting Department reviewed our income (self employed, sporadic), and froze it. We had just paid it down by $40K, with the thought that we'd pull that 40K back out later in the year, when we needed it, but in the meantime it would effectively reduce our mortgage debt until then. We did eventually get the $40K back out, but had to jump through numerous hoops to do so.
The second Heloc was frozen when Washington Mutual was bought out by Chase. We'd just gone through the episode above, and had no desire to use those helocs as the financial tools we had hoped for. I still have it... it 's a 30 year pay off, at an under par interest rate. It's still one of my lowest interest loans.
All in all, though, as a means to acquire more rental properties, it was hugely successful, and I'd do it again if I had confidence that a bank would loan to us. I think my point is that our financial picture, with self employment, no pensions, etc, hugely benefited from the access to easy money when it was available. For us, it was a moment to be seized. I think that opportunities for successful retirement are dotted along everybody's path. Helocs at a cheap rate, the chance to buy a property at a discount, 401K matching, a wildly successful stock investment, a rental, an inheritance... these chances come in all shapes and sizes. Don't squander them, no matter what form they take. I'm in my mid-50's, so FI without RE, with a 'stache in the mid 7 figures and growing. I read MMM because I always learn something here, and, because like the chart shows, hardly anyone of any age, including a big swath of my friends, has enough money to last them.