Author Topic: Extreme Early Retirement – Mainly a Myth Except for Hippies and Drifters  (Read 11651 times)

arebelspy

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http://www.darwinsmoney.com/early-retirement/

The author uses a bunch of straw men, clearly doesn't understand that more stuff doesn't make you happier, and is a huge complainypants.

I actually gained some respect for Financial Samauri from the back and forth in the comments section of it (though not a LOT, since he used to bash ER also, and now is retired with his wife still working, thus his sudden need to defend it, idk that he really "gets" it still.)

Figured you guys would enjoy (or get angry at) this author's simplemindedness.
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grantmeaname

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Figured you guys would enjoy (or get angry at) this author's simplemindedness.
A little of both. Good find though.

My favorite is his "99% of people would not want to retire like this" argument, which is idiocy so strong he's almost foaming at the mouth:
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It’s not a retirement 99% of Americans would aspire to and you can derive that same income from basically living off the public teet[sic] like millions of Americans are doing (unemployment, disability fraud, etc.).
Is there even a logical argument hidden under there somewhere? The fact that many Americans do not live frugally means that living frugally to retire is impossible, and the fact that it's possible to clear more than $15,000 a year in public assistance programs means that it's impossible to live on $15,000?

Don't the arguments sorta oppose each other, too? If millions of Americans are living on $15,000, presumably it must specifically 2 million or 3 million Americans, because they can't add up to more than 1%.

GreenGuava

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I've had people wonder how my annual expenses living in Los Angeles can be under $36,000 -- and a great bulk of that is a mortgage payment.  If I pay off the mortgage (leaving me still with an L.A. property tax and L.A. HOA fee), I can get my total annual expenditure under $18,000... all the while living in Los Angeles and playing golf regularly (at L.A. city prices - not expensive by coastal Southern California standards, but expensive by reasonable ones), among other luxuries.  And there's even a bit of room for lowering those expenses.  It is simply unfathomable to me that someone living in a paid-for residence in an area with a reasonable cost of living could be considered to be in deprivation at $15,000.

brewer12345

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Working is About More than Money – Social, Sense of Purpose, Parenting and More – For all the early retirees that abhor work so much, perhaps they haven’t considered what they’re missing.  Aside from, well, a predictable income, work provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  I hear stories all the time about people hitting their 50s and 60s and when they retire, they just sit around the house and sleep all day.  That’s called Depression, they just don’t know it or admit it.  There are strong social bonds formed when working and people do derive satisfaction from their professional experiences if they’re in a job they don’t hate.  And what about parenting?  I’m trying to teach my kids that they need to work hard and do well in school to have what we have someday.  They’re not going to learn that by watching me sit on a hammock in the yard from the time they’re old enough to see their friends’ parents working.

This is perhaps the most hysterically funny bit of the entire screed.  Its especially amusing contrasted with this: http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/04/working-scared-rutgers-univ-book.html

Jamesqf

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I think he has some pretty good points, particularly about how some of those (including MMM) selling the idea of ER aren't really retired, they're just doing something they find more congenial than a 9-5 W2 job.

There's also a good point in the work satisfaction thing.  There's a thread in another section (not much commented) about research into what causes happiness; http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/mustachianism-around-the-web/the-hard-data-on-happiness/  The linked article has this statement:
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...my work must be fulfilling both individually and socially: I must do something that satisfies me as an individual and that I regard as producing significant good for others. Of course, unless I have the luck of being born rich, my work must also generate enough income to provide me the minimal goods without which happiness is not even possible. The challenge is to find satisfying work with an adequate income.

Though of course he's wrong about living on $15K per year.  If you exclude mortgage payments, I live quite happily spending less than that.  It's just that the things I enjoy don't involve spending a lot of money.

arebelspy

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I think he has some pretty good points, particularly about how some of those (including MMM) selling the idea of ER aren't really retired, they're just doing something they find more congenial than a 9-5 W2 job.

That's fine that many do switch jobs once they become FI, and we can debate if they're retired or not, but the fact of the matter is that they could retire.  This author is just calling it impossible, then showing some people who sell the idea of ER may not be.  Fine, but if some actually are retired, then it's not impossible, and it's irrelevant if some people who hit FI don't RE, but switch to something more enjoyable.


There's also a good point in the work satisfaction thing. 

Only if you can't get that same satisfaction elsewhere.  In which case, great, become FI but don't ER.  Keep at your job.  Or switch jobs. Or do whatever.  But FIRE gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, including getting satisfaction from your work, or getting it elsewhere.

Both of the points you say are good points aren't actually valid at all, unless there exists NO ONE who has successfully FIRE'd (all of them switched jobs) and one's work is the only place to get satisfaction.
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sheepstache

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Working is About More than Money – Social, Sense of Purpose, Parenting and More – For all the early retirees that abhor work so much, perhaps they haven’t considered what they’re missing.  Aside from, well, a predictable income, work provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  I hear stories all the time about people hitting their 50s and 60s and when they retire, they just sit around the house and sleep all day.  That’s called Depression, they just don’t know it or admit it.  There are strong social bonds formed when working and people do derive satisfaction from their professional experiences if they’re in a job they don’t hate.  And what about parenting?  I’m trying to teach my kids that they need to work hard and do well in school to have what we have someday.  They’re not going to learn that by watching me sit on a hammock in the yard from the time they’re old enough to see their friends’ parents working.

This is perhaps the most hysterically funny bit of the entire screed.  Its especially amusing contrasted with this: http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/04/working-scared-rutgers-univ-book.html

My favorite part of this bit is that these people must still be taking care of their homes and parenting their children, yet he considers this "nothing" and decides they are miserable for it.  Yet this is what his wife does!!

matchewed

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I guess the real question I get from this article is....

Which one are you? Hippy or Drifter?

I'd label myself a drifter but my track record at being one is pretty dismal.

John74

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There are plenty of naysayers when it comes to very early retirement. Those who can't ER, those who won't ER because of religious, cultural, or ideological reason, those who think it can't be done, and those who think it shouldn't be done. Meh. Keep writing your blog, and I'll keep doing what the hell I wanna do.

Nords

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http://www.darwinsmoney.com/early-retirement/
The author uses a bunch of straw men, clearly doesn't understand that more stuff doesn't make you happier, and is a huge complainypants.
I actually gained some respect for Financial Samauri from the back and forth in the comments section of it (though not a LOT, since he used to bash ER also, and now is retired with his wife still working, thus his sudden need to defend it, idk that he really "gets" it still.)
Figured you guys would enjoy (or get angry at) this author's simplemindedness.
Darwin's deadline journalism.  Attack a flaw instead of clarifying it with the person making the statement.  Get lots of traffic to your blog.  I sometimes wonder if writers like that are trying to talk themselves down off the ledge.  He didn't care enough about the subject to interview people who have made it work or those who have failed miserably.  And you're right, that health insurance rant was totally unprovoked by the CNBC article.   

I've enjoyed reading Sam's "rants" on early retirement, but to be fair I think he's also an accomplished veteran at sarcasm who's frequently taken seriously-- even when he's not being serious.

Another guy who "doesn't get it" is Philip Greenspun:  http://philip.greenspun.com/materialism/early-retirement/  To be fair to him too, his life has taken a turn for the better over the last few years.

I guess the real question I get from this article is....
Which one are you? Hippy or Drifter?
I'd label myself a drifter but my track record at being one is pretty dismal.
Nah, I refuse to be slotted into a cubicle stereotyped by The Man.  I'm a surfer.

I sympathize with those who are accused of math incompetence or exploiting their (working) spouses or simply "switching careers" or going entrepreneur instead of "being really ER".  I think anyone who awards themselves the title of "ER" will eventually be stereotyped into one of those categories.  I guess the key to your credibility is convincing your readers that you have the assets to support your lifestyle without having to depend on self employment or spouse income. 

But I'll say it:  when I ER'd, I never expected to have as much net worth today as we've somehow accumulated-- and we have the forms 8283 to back that up.  After retiring in the pits of one recession and experiencing another, I believe it's fair to say that we have survived the "sequence of returns" challenge.  The key to our self-confidence was appreciating that the 4% SWR is not an annuity guarantee but rather a threshold or a tripwire.  It has a lot of flaws but it also overlooks a lot of defensive tools available to the ER who's willing to do their planning.   

Instead of checking ER licenses and administering field sobriety ER tests, we should use people's ER claims to shine a spotlight on our own ER plans.  If we think that someone is sadly mistaken or flat-out misrepresenting the facts, then we should adjust our own plans to reflect that.  If someone like Darwin wants to poke fun at people who can't stand the turns their careers have taken, then he should at least have the courtesy to suggest how they can adapt their finances to their principles.

I'll stereotype the people who are railing against ER:  many of them have never had to depend on their ER planning to rescue themselves from a sucky job.  They enjoy what they're doing (and they'll never retire) or they have total autonomy and can't imagine why people keep going to miserable department meetings. 

As for having a higher purpose in life than just being a hippie or a drifter:  "Not all those who wander are lost"...

Jamesqf

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That's fine that many do switch jobs once they become FI, and we can debate if they're retired or not, but the fact of the matter is that they could retire.  This author is just calling it impossible, then showing some people who sell the idea of ER may not be.

Perhaps my reading comprehension is at fault, because I didn't understand the article to say that ER was impossible, just more difficult to achieve than some people would like us to believe.  In any case, his point (and mine) is that some of those who claim to be ER'd really aren't, they've just changed their occupation, and that is valid.

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Only if you can't get that same satisfaction elsewhere.  In which case, great, become FI but don't ER.  Keep at your job.  Or switch jobs. Or do whatever.

But you don't get the same satisfaction from not working as you do from work.  You may get other forms of satisfaction that replace it, but they're not the same. 

Quote
But FIRE gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, including getting satisfaction from your work, or getting it elsewhere.

No, because there are two separate parts to FIRE.  FI gives you the freedom... well, not to do whatever you want, but to greatly enlarge the range of possible things you can do.  RE cuts off a range of possibilities, as for instance if what you want to do requires keeping up job skills in a competitive market.  Ask any professional woman who's tried to re-enter the job market after a decade or so of raising kids.

Jeremy

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I'm a hippie AND a drifter.  Good times. 


Sparky

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I'm a hippie AND a drifter.  Good times.

Me too. Happy as hell with my life these days. Nearly everyone is jealous about that I know.

I can't think of spending more than about 15k a year, what the heck do I need that I don't have already?

matchewed

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I guess the real question I get from this article is....
Which one are you? Hippy or Drifter?
I'd label myself a drifter but my track record at being one is pretty dismal.
Nah, I refuse to be slotted into a cubicle stereotyped by The Man.  I'm a surfer.

As for having a higher purpose in life than just being a hippie or a drifter:  "Not all those who wander are lost"...

Awww why do you have to go and ruin my overly simplistic categorization of people. It makes thinking that much easier because I have to do it less. ;)

tooqk4u22

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Figured you guys would enjoy (or get angry at) this author's simplemindedness.
A little of both. Good find though.

My favorite is his "99% of people would not want to retire like this" argument, which is idiocy so strong he's almost foaming at the mouth:
Quote
It’s not a retirement 99% of Americans would aspire to and you can derive that same income from basically living off the public teet[sic] like millions of Americans are doing (unemployment, disability fraud, etc.).
Is there even a logical argument hidden under there somewhere? The fact that many Americans do not live frugally means that living frugally to retire is impossible, and the fact that it's possible to clear more than $15,000 a year in public assistance programs means that it's impossible to live on $15,000?

Don't the arguments sorta oppose each other, too? If millions of Americans are living on $15,000, presumably it must specifically 2 million or 3 million Americans, because they can't add up to more than 1%.

I didn't take it as you did - as in that it couldn't be done.  I took it that 99% of people wouldn't want to live that way (i.e. are so attached to spending and would feel deprived/not normal), I agree with this....I would wager that those on this forum and others like it that are striving to FIRE account for less than 1% of the population. There are people with millions and still work to have more or perceived better lifestyle.

It is also true that governemnt subsidies (reduced rent, food stamps, health care, free cell phone, etc) equate to about a $30k spending plan for a family of four and they still spend on large cars, tvs, clothes....and savings goal to meet this lifestyle is zero.  Personally, I would rather work to save up the $750k (assuming 4% SWR) and live where and how I want and not be subject to the whims of political funding -that is not independence, it is 100% dependence. 

But there in lies a huge problem as there is a complete disincentive to work and strive to get and be better. 

arebelspy

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I didn't take it as you did - as in that it couldn't be done.  I took it that 99% of people wouldn't want to live that way (i.e. are so attached to spending and would feel deprived/not normal), I agree with this....I would wager that those on this forum and others like it that are striving to FIRE account for less than 1% of the population. There are people with millions and still work to have more or perceived better lifestyle.

You think that 99% of the people wouldn't want MMM's lifestyle?  Many people here are shooting for at least the median income of a typical U.S. household in ER.  Think most people wouldn't want that?

Sure, maybe most wouldn't want to live on 15k, but it's a strawman to say all early retirees (or "99% of them") live on that amount.  It's just flat out not true.


It is also true that governemnt subsidies (reduced rent, food stamps, health care, free cell phone, etc) equate to about a $30k spending plan for a family of four and they still spend on large cars, tvs, clothes....and savings goal to meet this lifestyle is zero.  Personally, I would rather work to save up the $750k (assuming 4% SWR) and live where and how I want and not be subject to the whims of political funding -that is not independence, it is 100% dependence. 

Yes, so would most of us here.  That seems no only completely possible, but a lifestyle many would want to live, not just the 1% striving for FIRE, but the masses who don't even know about it.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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tooqk4u22

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I didn't take it as you did - as in that it couldn't be done.  I took it that 99% of people wouldn't want to live that way (i.e. are so attached to spending and would feel deprived/not normal), I agree with this....I would wager that those on this forum and others like it that are striving to FIRE account for less than 1% of the population. There are people with millions and still work to have more or perceived better lifestyle.

You think that 99% of the people wouldn't want MMM's lifestyle?  Many people here are shooting for at least the median income of a typical U.S. household in ER.  Think most people wouldn't want that?

Sure, maybe most wouldn't want to live on 15k, but it's a strawman to say all early retirees (or "99% of them") live on that amount.  It's just flat out not true.

I don't think you get what I mean, I am not saying that 99% of FIRE live on that amount but maybe I missed that context in the article.  While there are many ideals about FIRE - it really comes down to having enough to maintain your desired lifestyle in perpetuity.  So how do you get there...by saving A LOT more than you spend.  Re-read my response - I wasn't focused on living on $15k.....I was focused on STRIVING to FIRE.  Strive - to make great efforts to achieve or obtain something, struggle or fight vigorously. So the choices are to save enough to live as MMM does, which contrary to your view most people would not want to live that way regardless of how nice we may view it, or to save less money and live at the poverty level of $15k so you get to FIRE quicker.

Considering that the majority of people don't even save the typical recommended 10% why would you think that most people strive to early retirement....they either won't accept the "sacrifice" in spending habits/lifestyle to get there or won't want to live alesser lifestyle. It is two part equation because you can't have one without the other.

I think you are missing that the population of people that are working to FIRE, while growing, is still a relatively low number.

That said, if your comment/view was more along the line that those people dream/wish they were FIRE then I sure I would agree with that, but such dreams/wishes don't just happen.

It is also true that governemnt subsidies (reduced rent, food stamps, health care, free cell phone, etc) equate to about a $30k spending plan for a family of four and they still spend on large cars, tvs, clothes....and savings goal to meet this lifestyle is zero.  Personally, I would rather work to save up the $750k (assuming 4% SWR) and live where and how I want and not be subject to the whims of political funding -that is not independence, it is 100% dependence. 

Yes, so would most of us here.  That seems no only completely possible, but a lifestyle many would want to live, not just the 1% striving for FIRE, but the masses who don't even know about it.

Where did I say it was impossible? 
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 03:03:16 PM by tooqk4u22 »

arebelspy

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You apparently read a different article than I did, because you're arguing completely different things than what the article did.

I can't discuss with you your arguments under the premise of that article when they are completely different than that article, so I'm not sure which to address.

Since we can't discuss this, I hope you have a nice day.  :)
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tooqk4u22

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You apparently read a different article than I did, because you're arguing completely different things than what the article did.

I can't discuss with you your arguments under the premise of that article when they are completely different than that article, so I'm not sure which to address.

Since we can't discuss this, I hope you have a nice day.  :)

To circle back my argument was to Grants comment about 99% of people would not want to retire like this, and per above I attest that that is true.  Not to mention the article was referring to one person retiring at $15k, not everyone.

Mr Mark

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I didn't take it as you did - as in that it couldn't be done.  I took it that 99% of people wouldn't want to live that way (i.e. are so attached to spending and would feel deprived/not normal), I agree with this....I would wager that those on this forum and others like it that are striving to FIRE account for less than 1% of the population. There are people with millions and still work to have more or perceived better lifestyle.

You think that 99% of the people wouldn't want MMM's lifestyle?  Many people here are shooting for at least the median income of a typical U.S. household in ER.  Think most people wouldn't want that?

Sure, maybe most wouldn't want to live on 15k, but it's a strawman to say all early retirees (or "99% of them") live on that amount.  It's just flat out not true.


It is also true that governemnt subsidies (reduced rent, food stamps, health care, free cell phone, etc) equate to about a $30k spending plan for a family of four and they still spend on large cars, tvs, clothes....and savings goal to meet this lifestyle is zero.  Personally, I would rather work to save up the $750k (assuming 4% SWR) and live where and how I want and not be subject to the whims of political funding -that is not independence, it is 100% dependence. 

Yes, so would most of us here.  That seems no only completely possible, but a lifestyle many would want to live, not just the 1% striving for FIRE, but the masses who don't even know about it.


At each end of the social spectrum there is a leisure class...

MMM manages to exploit a loophole in the system. You can earn enough, and save enough, if you frugal, to reach financial independence. With a relatively small stash, you can exploit the tricks built for the rich (low taxes on capital gains and dividends; investing in the stockmarket safely; preferential depreciation and tax treatment for rental properties, no wealth tax), and the tricks for the middle class (tax deductible IRAs, 401k, mortgage interest, property tax, health care, artificially low interest rates, subsidised public schooling and other services via location and housing costs), and the tricks for the low income (very low taxes on income, lots of free entertainment, public transport, goodwill stores, do-it-yourself, make do, practical solutions, low cashflow).

On top of that in the USA you get an incredibly cheap cost of living, reasonable rule of law, and in places incredible and free federal, state and local supplied public services. Especially if you don't have to spend all day working!!!!


Thankfully, most Americans will stay on their treadmills working away on daily double commutes for the next flat screen tv and to pay off their credit card balances. They, and their equivalents worldwide are what make our FIRE life possible. I'd prefer not to shout too loudly or arrogantly about it. As capitalists, we must accept the costs that system imparts.

tooqk4u22

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Thankfully, most Americans will stay on their treadmills working away on daily double commutes for the next flat screen tv and to pay off their credit card balances. They, and their equivalents worldwide are what make our FIRE life possible. I'd prefer not to shout too loudly or arrogantly about it. As capitalists, we must accept the costs that system imparts.

That is the 99% I was referring to...they don't see, they don't strive for it, and therefore they don't want it. I agree with you...let the hamsters keep spinning the wheel so the little extra dollars that are generated are given to you and me and the others like us (the fewer the better).

Another Reader

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Mr. Mark has nailed it. 

MMM manages to exploit a loophole in the system. You can earn enough, and save enough, if you frugal, to reach financial independence. With a relatively small stash, you can exploit the tricks built for the rich (low taxes on capital gains and dividends; investing in the stockmarket safely; preferential depreciation and tax treatment for rental properties, no wealth tax), and the tricks for the middle class (tax deductible IRAs, 401k, mortgage interest, property tax, health care, artificially low interest rates, subsidised public schooling and other services via location and housing costs), and the tricks for the low income (very low taxes on income, lots of free entertainment, public transport, goodwill stores, do-it-yourself, make do, practical solutions, low cashflow).

It's not a loophole, it's an understanding of the various pieces of the financial system and how to construct your financial universe out of those pieces.  Consuming less than you make, investing the excess in real estate and tax deferred accounts, and enjoying what taxes make free or low cost to you are part of the plan. 

arebelspy

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let the hamsters keep spinning the wheel so the little extra dollars that are generated are given to you and me and the others like us (the fewer the better).

That sounds so depressing to me - having to keep my lifestyle quiet so I can take advantage of others.

No, I assert that the more Mustachians the better, even if it means a longer time before FIRE for me personally, and I'll continue to encourage everyone I know to be more Mustachian, both for their own good and for that of the world.

YMMV.
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tooqk4u22

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Depressing it may be, but there are always haves and have nots, and if you have the intelect, drive and resources to FIRE then you are a have and that means there has to be a have not to counterbalance it.   Without that there is noone to rent your houses that you have been accumulating...so as idealistic you may be and as nirvana like as that may sound it is not founded in the realm of reality.

Idealistically, communism sounds like utopia, but in practice it fails miserably....so I acknowledge and accept this and would rather the less focused stay on the wheel so I don't have to.

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No, I assert that the more Mustachians the better, even if it means a longer time before FIRE for me personally, and I'll continue to encourage everyone I know to be more Mustachian, both for their own good and for that of the world.

YMMV.

I agree :)

arebelspy

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Depressing it may be, but there are always haves and have nots, and if you have the intelect, drive and resources to FIRE then you are a have and that means there has to be a have not to counterbalance it.   Without that there is noone to rent your houses that you have been accumulating...so as idealistic you may be and as nirvana like as that may sound it is not founded in the realm of reality.

Idealistically, communism sounds like utopia, but in practice it fails miserably....so I acknowledge and accept this and would rather the less focused stay on the wheel so I don't have to.

The world may never be a paradise, and everything won't be wonderful for everyone, but that won't stop me from trying to make it better for others, rather than secretly gloating that their misfortune is not my own.

/shrug

Again, just a different life philosophy.  Yours seems depressing to me, as I'm sure mine seems naive to you.  To each his own.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Mr Mark

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Arebelspy,

I'm not gloating. But my FIRE plans do assume a 5% - 7% pretax growth on my portfolio of assets after inflation. Where is this net real growth to come from?

Not from a world of Mustashians I'm afraid.

So yes, share the secret, but thankfully most people will not follow. Plus, be aware a lot of our assumptions also involve society allowing us to live off pure capital via tax rates etc.

brewer12345

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Arebelspy,

I'm not gloating. But my FIRE plans do assume a 5% - 7% pretax growth on my portfolio of assets after inflation. Where is this net real growth to come from?

Not from a world of Mustashians I'm afraid.

So yes, share the secret, but thankfully most people will not follow. Plus, be aware a lot of our assumptions also involve society allowing us to live off pure capital via tax rates etc.

Actually, there are a lot of sources of economic growth aside from excessive consumption and borrowed money (hard to remember after the last decade, I know).  If we as a country saved more over time there would be a serious boon to growth since there would be more capital available to be invested in economically productive ways, for example.

But as you say, very few people will listen.  Do a mitzvah and spread the gospel of savings, frugality and freedom, hope for the best and get on with life.

Forcus

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To each his own. If there weren't folks buying expensive new cars, I wouldn't have a cheap used car in 5 or 10 years. If no one built homes, I couldn't buy a 10 year old home that is modern but perhaps 20% cheaper than new built cost. That guy can spend more than his income and work forever if he wants. I find no joy in either!

Nords

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Depressing it may be, but there are always haves and have nots, and if you have the intelect, drive and resources to FIRE then you are a have and that means there has to be a have not to counterbalance it.
I don't understand this "must be" yin/yang logic of "have" and "have not".  It must be very sad to live in a zero-sum world.

Tyler

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My favorite complainypants moment in the article:

If you don't pay more for expensive organic food, you'll get "diabetes, cancer, and more." 

Aside from the stupid suggestion that ERs eat less healthy than the full-time workers who eat out 5 days a week, that's a prime example of how marketing works to extract money from people. 
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 11:31:28 AM by Tyler »

tooqk4u22

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Arebelspy,

I'm not gloating. But my FIRE plans do assume a 5% - 7% pretax growth on my portfolio of assets after inflation. Where is this net real growth to come from?

Not from a world of Mustashians I'm afraid.

So yes, share the secret, but thankfully most people will not follow. Plus, be aware a lot of our assumptions also involve society allowing us to live off pure capital via tax rates etc.

Actually, there are a lot of sources of economic growth aside from excessive consumption and borrowed money (hard to remember after the last decade, I know).  If we as a country saved more over time there would be a serious boon to growth since there would be more capital available to be invested in economically productive ways, for example.

But as you say, very few people will listen.  Do a mitzvah and spread the gospel of savings, frugality and freedom, hope for the best and get on with life.

I don't disagree that there are economic drivers...but it is not the last decade of living off borrowed money, it is the last half century.  If/when if we "reset" and depart from a consumer debt driven society then it would be catostrophic and anyone who is relying on this would be screwed...and the diversified economic drivers that you suggest, sure they will be there but it would take 50 years to recover.  On the other hand if you FIRE'd after this happens then it is a great thing...the whole pros/cons of sequencing. So yes, given the current economic drivers and my/yours investments, I want the hamsters to keep spinning the wheel. Do I wish it has to be that way, no.  Do I feel bad about it, no.


Depressing it may be, but there are always haves and have nots, and if you have the intelect, drive and resources to FIRE then you are a have and that means there has to be a have not to counterbalance it.
I don't understand this "must be" yin/yang logic of "have" and "have not".  It must be very sad to live in a zero-sum world.

I don't find it sad at all, just reality. Maybe your biased by having the stability/predictibility of a military pension (thanks for the service) and might feel differently if you had to rely on the markets.

Nords

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I don't find it sad at all, just reality. Maybe your biased by having the stability/predictibility of a military pension (thanks for the service) and might feel differently if you had to rely on the markets.
I'll say to you what I say to everyone who relies on that attitude:
"If you want an inflation-fighting annuity, go buy one."

My financial independence could hypothetically be supported only by my pension (and Social Security in about a decade) but my budget is dependent on both the rental market and the stock market.

My objection is to your characterization that people who manage to FIRE do it by taking away someone else's ability to also pursue FIRE.