Author Topic: Does early retirement contradict badassity?  (Read 38786 times)

Raay

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Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« on: October 30, 2014, 05:40:43 AM »
Here's a thought after reading some of the "what would you do after FIREd" thread. At risk of being labeled as troll, and from a perspective of a person who is already FI, but challenged at work: could it be that the whole idea of early retirement is at core contradictory to the mustachian idea of badassity and voluntary discomfort?

Let me explain: when you have a choice of performing some light entertaining work (like "managing" your accumulated assets or doing some part-time charity work), which anyone can do with some basic training, and challenging, thankless work which requires an expert (like rising to the top of your profession or managing other people), which would be more badass to pursue?

Isn't early retirement just a "flight", rather the "fight" reaction, more appropriate for a badass?

Are wannabe early retirees just another brand of closet "thy kingdom come" complainy-pants?

Is MMM - who likes to emphasize value of "hard work" and occasionally stress that he's not badass enough himself (albeit only when it comes to expenses) - at least a bit hypocritical, or maybe even trying to compensate for the "mistake" of abandoning his career path? Where's the "magic of thinking big" in early frugal retirement?

Is it the reason why ER-Jacob started to work again?

Is it "cheap" not to do what you would be best qualified to do at your full potential - which doesn't necessarily coincide with what you would "love" to do currently (e.g. watch some TV, play games, or do some organic-community-charity-happy-hippy utopian gardening etc.)?

In summary, is ER a veiled waste of human potential and should we feel ashamed of it in company of hard-working high-achievers?

VirginiaBob

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2014, 05:53:40 AM »
I can see your point.  If everyone that has true talent for what they are called to do in thier careers retired at age 30-40, the world would miss out on a lot.  For example, what if Einstein, Tesla, Edison, Carnegie, etc. retired early, and just said, "I'm done" and walked out the door before they completed thier life accomplishments which have improved the lives of everyone in the world?

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2014, 05:55:16 AM »
Being controlled by a boss is soul destroying and thanks to stress could wind up killing me.

Turning my thermostat down a few degrees or biking 40 km won't kill me.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2014, 06:20:03 AM »
I think you miss a core portion of the "voluntary discomfort" or Spartan philosophy.  The point of doing uncomfortable things is improvement.  If you're financially independent and find that your job provides challenges, you feel that you can improve yourself (or your self worth is tied to the goal of helping others), then continue.

If those things are not true, quit your job and find activities (whether it's another job or a volunteer activity or...) which do provide these challenges and benefits. 

The point is to give yourself this option by getting off the consumer treadmill, not to retire as early as possible so that you can hook up your catheter and bedpan and never do anything productive again.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2014, 06:25:57 AM »
I can see your point.  If everyone that has true talent for what they are called to do in thier careers retired at age 30-40, the world would miss out on a lot.  For example, what if Einstein, Tesla, Edison, Carnegie, etc. retired early, and just said, "I'm done" and walked out the door before they completed thier life accomplishments which have improved the lives of everyone in the world?

Einstein did say he was done and walk out the door . . . of the patent office where he worked.  Tesla did say he was done and walk out the door . . . of Edison's company when Tesla's ideas were being ignored and stolen.

Retiring from a shitty job doesn't mean you stop doing useful work.  It frees you up to focus on the things that interest you.


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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2014, 06:28:28 AM »
Which is more badass?

  • Working at a desk job doing software development for a nameless company on a nameless product because it is what pays best.
  • Managing/repairing/building a collection of rental and sales real estate properties, while simultaneously launching a successful small online empire dedicated to eliminating wastefulness in the lives of thousands of people, with principles that ultimately improve the environment AND the quality of life for most participants.

To me, that's not even a close race. That taking option 2 also led MMM to have a level of magnitude of more flexibility in taking time away from "work" for what he values most is gravy (even if that gravy is what prompted the whole process in the first place).

Retirement (especially early retirement) doesn't have to mean you never work again and never contribute to society. It just means that you do so on your own terms. For my part, I plan to write novels, finish art projects, and do a fair amount of construction (starting with wood-working and furniture building). After time goes by, if I get an itch, I could see pulling things together to contribute to efforts to improve green energy. Some of those things will almost certainly add to my finances. But it will be great doing them on my terms instead of spending 40 hours a week slaving away and then feeling left with too little energy to make much headway on accomplishing personal goals I've had set since high school.

Others have mentioned a few who retired early and then made major contributions. This may pale by comparison, but Tom Clancy retired from an accounting job when he wrote his first novel. Sometimes it's what you do after retirement that means the most to the world.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 06:32:05 AM by JGB »

VirginiaBob

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2014, 06:37:38 AM »
On the other hand, which is more badass?

  • Working at a desk job doing software development for a nameless company on a nameless product because it is what pays best.
  • Managing/repairing/building a collection of rental and sales real estate properties, while simultaneously launching a successful small online empire dedicated to eliminating wastefulness in the lives of thousands of people, with principles that ultimately improve the environment AND the quality of life for most participants.

To me, that's not even a close race. That taking option 2 also led MMM to have a level of magnitude of more flexibility in taking time away from "work" for what he values most is gravy (even if that gravy is what prompted the whole process in the first place).

Retirement (especially early retirement) doesn't have to mean you never work again and never contribute to society. It just means that you do so on your own terms. For my part, I plan to write novels, finish art projects, and do a fair amount of construction (starting with wood-working and furniture building). Some of those things will almost certainly add to my finances. But it will be great doing them on my terms instead of spending 40 hours a week slaving away and then feeling left with too little energy to make much headway on accomplishing personal goals I've had set since high school.

Sure reading the comparison like that, but consider this comparison, using different words:

1.  Working at a top tier software developement company, leading a team of 25 people to create state of the art products that are used all over the world.
2.  Maintaining a personal finance blog posting mundane articles and fixing leaky toilets in rental properties.

Just saying, you kind of worded it pretty slanted towards one way.  Lol!

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2014, 06:55:23 AM »
DH and I had similar conversations.  Our FIRE goal is to be able to quit working if we want to.  It's the ability to choose our own life path, not have it dictated.  In a few years, if a job opportunity arose that was half the pay, but had great potential to do something extremely unique and creative, we would probably go for it.  For others, it's the ability to travel, volunteer more, etc. 

If working makes a person happy, then keep working.  But the ability to FIRE probably helps them stay happy at work because they can leave whenever they want without worry. 

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2014, 07:00:51 AM »
It's an interesting question. I don't derive any pleasure or self-worth from my job situation, so it's an absolute NO for me. But if your profession is your desired target for your efforts, more power to you.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2014, 07:05:15 AM »

Is it "cheap" not to do what you would be best qualified to do at your full potential - which doesn't necessarily coincide with what you would "love" to do currently (e.g. watch some TV, play games, or do some organic-community-charity-happy-hippy utopian gardening etc.)?


I don't think I get your point here.

Would it be 'cheap' to not be an mercenary, although your skill set makes you an excellent soldier, because what you really want to do is join a pacifist organization?

Would it be 'cheap' to quit your job at an oil company, because you are an environmentalist that believes you are destroying the planet and want to volunteer at an environmental NGO?

I guess what I am trying to say is that perhaps reaching your 'full potential', whatever that means, may also contradict your values. So, in these cases, I don't think that it is 'cheap' to do what you love to do instead of something that you are good at.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2014, 07:34:41 AM »
OP - I got a similar vibe from the latest blog post about going car-free.  Sure my life is crazy busy, running the kids to activities and packing in the errands which is only possible leveraging modern conveniences like a car.  My wife was SAH but began to feel, now that the kids are older, that her life seemed increasingly empty (although she does miss getting all the errands done and cleaning during quieter times in the week).  So I feel like our family had to become more badass as she is back at work full time teaching (she used to be in healthcare and hated it, loves teaching at Elementary school).  Plus we have extra income and gives our family more opportunities to experience more things, which keeps us motivated at our work.  It adds friction to our lives, but the absence of friction was also getting frustrating.  It makes for a busy, car-dependent lifestyle, but we choose it mindfully.

On the flip side, MMM, master of badassity, has this to say:  "On weekends, we simply chill together. It is my idea of living, and it is the foundation of our relationship together as a family. We sit on couches and read and write books and comics. The boy and I ride down to the creek and carve channels and dams in the rocks and sand. Then well climb some trees, max out the swingsets at the park, and maybe do some urban planning in the sandbox. We get home tired and nicely sunned out, and hell disappear to his room and make songs with Ableton while the lady and I will make some dinner. At this time of year it tends to cool down and get dark outside pretty quickly, so well start a fire in the woodburning stove I built into the new house. Some wine may be poured. All of that, and its still only Saturday night."

So yes, Mustachianism is full of contradictions, the main one being that MMM and I have a totally different perspective on a fulfilling life.  But does it mean you toss it all?  I don't think so, appreciate that it gave you the chance to be mindful about the life you choose for yourself and that there are alternatives. 

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2014, 07:43:37 AM »
Here's a thought after reading some of the "what would you do after FIREd" thread. At risk of being labeled as troll, and from a perspective of a person who is already FI, but challenged at work: could it be that the whole idea of early retirement is at core contradictory to the mustachian idea of badassity and voluntary discomfort?

Let me explain: when you have a choice of performing some light entertaining work (like "managing" your accumulated assets or doing some part-time charity work), which anyone can do with some basic training, and challenging, thankless work which requires an expert (like rising to the top of your profession or managing other people), which would be more badass to pursue?

Isn't early retirement just a "flight", rather the "fight" reaction, more appropriate for a badass?

Are wannabe early retirees just another brand of closet "thy kingdom come" complainy-pants?

Is MMM - who likes to emphasize value of "hard work" and occasionally stress that he's not badass enough himself (albeit only when it comes to expenses) - at least a bit hypocritical, or maybe even trying to compensate for the "mistake" of abandoning his career path? Where's the "magic of thinking big" in early frugal retirement?

Is it the reason why ER-Jacob started to work again?

Is it "cheap" not to do what you would be best qualified to do at your full potential - which doesn't necessarily coincide with what you would "love" to do currently (e.g. watch some TV, play games, or do some organic-community-charity-happy-hippy utopian gardening etc.)?

In summary, is ER a veiled waste of human potential and should we feel ashamed of it in company of hard-working high-achievers?

Retirement doesn't mean sitting on your front porch all day drinking iced tea and reading books. MMM talks about this over and over in his blog. He left his job in IT because he was more passionate about carpentry and his family. If I remember right, in one article or interview he mentions he entered the IT field specifically for high pay.

If you have expertise in an area, that field of work motivates you, and you feel your employer treats you well and has views in line with your "world view" then you would likely not retire. If one of these is lacking, FIRE give you the power / freedom to leave and find this somewhere else. That may be leaving your high paying job at a large corporation and taking a position at a boutique firm in your field at a lower pay. It may be leaving your profession and taking up another profession.

You're right in theory... most people would probably not do well in ER if their vision is to retire at 40 as a high-flying civil engineer and volunteer their time for the rest of their life at the Salvation Army. Chances are they will get bored quick unless they receive a lot of satisfaction in plating food and washing dishes. What if they spent their retirement designing or building water systems in South America or Asia for a NGO? Would that be a veiled waste of human potential?

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2014, 11:32:26 AM »
Voluntary discomfort is not a higher good in itself. It's something that helps you know what's important to you, and allows you to do things that you want to do. It's also good for reminding yourself that you won't break if you're a little uncomfortable. However, there are no prizes awarded for suffering. Suffering for no reason is not morally superior or badass. If it were, we could all just stand outside in the rain and be badass, but it isn't doing anything to improve the world.

I also don't feel that we owe it to the world to do something we don't like. I think everyone should pull their weight, or as much of it as they can. While you work, do your job as well as you can.  If you can afford to quit and you want to retire, go right ahead. You have to live up to the commitments you've made (such as supporting a family), but you don't have an obligation to the world at large to keep slaving away. Of course, if you derive satisfaction from doing something that helps the world, that's great (and you're fortunate).

I believe that we owe it to the world not to be a a**hole: don't hurt other people, don't spoil a public good, don't leave a big mess for others to clean up, don't screw others. That is Hillel's rule, the original Golden Rule: If it's hateful to you, do not do it to your neighbor.


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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2014, 12:08:46 PM »
I view badassity as a means to an end (of having to tolerate corporate BS).  Of course, in order for that end to play out as planned, a certain level of fiscal badassity must continue on through the rest one's life.

Continuing on after one has "enough" is simply greed. Perhaps if you decided to continue on and dedicate all your efforts toward improving the world, that would probably qualify as being pretty badass as well. 

VirginiaBob

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2014, 12:47:21 PM »
I view badassity as a means to an end (of having to tolerate corporate BS).  Of course, in order for that end to play out as planned, a certain level of fiscal badassity must continue on through the rest one's life.

Continuing on after one has "enough" is simply greed. Perhaps if you decided to continue on and dedicate all your efforts toward improving the world, that would probably qualify as being pretty badass as well.

Well come on - that's pretty silly.  There are plenty of reasons to continue on in your profession (and to accept money in doing so) that don't constitute greed.

Agreed, for example if you have kids that are in school all day anyways.  Might make sense to go to work while they are in school in order to give them a better life.  I'd call this selflessness, not greed.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2014, 12:52:14 PM »
Continuing on after one has "enough" is simply greed.

Yeah, that's actually quite offensive to anyone who pursues Financial Independence but not RE.  And yes, I'll be happy to be more charitable later in life, but it's also counterproductive to say that you have to start giving away money once you have 'enough' but are only in your 30's and 40's.  I don't want to become a charity case myself.  Sure, maybe I'll have much more than enough, but until I'm 60 or 70, it's hard to tell....

sol

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2014, 01:04:49 PM »
I see two separate discussions here.  One about quitting your job, and one about badassity.  They are not necessarily related. 

THE QUITTING:

Is it "cheap" not to do what you would be best qualified to do at your full potential - which doesn't necessarily coincide with what you would "love" to do

I think it depends on what you do for a living, but in some cases it is definitely wasteful to retire early. 

Imagine a hypothetical employer who invests $200k into educating you, training you, developing your skills, and getting you started on a productive career path.  How do you think that employer will feel when you up and quit six months later?  Now, consider that YOU are the employer (and also the employee), the person who spent time and money to develop your own skill set, which you promptly abandoned.  Why is that any different?  Why aren't you mad at yourself?

If your jobs is pushing a broom, maybe it's not so relevant.  But if you have an actual career, and find your work meaningful and important, why would you bail on it after working so hard to be good at it?  Why not continue to enjoy the work, and the benefits it provides?

If you have expertise in an area, that field of work motivates you, and you feel your employer treats you well and has views in line with your "world view" then you would likely not retire. If one of these is lacking, FIRE give you the power / freedom to leave and find this somewhere else. That may be leaving your high paying job at a large corporation and taking a position at a boutique firm in your field at a lower pay.

I've heard this argument presented here often, but I think it overlooks one important wrinkle.  In most professions, the people who are the most talented and hardest working, who also get paid the most, are the same ones best positioned to really make a difference in the world.   Capitalism does sometimes work as a force for good, and employment opportunities may be one such case.  I love my job because I find the work important and socially relevant, but there is no way I could ever be as effective at it without the backing of the federal government, my employer.  Losing my job would mean losing the opportunity to most effectively do what I really want to do.


THE BADASSITY:

So yes, Mustachianism is full of contradictions

Like all isms, yes it is full of contradictions.  The one that has been bugging me the most recently is Stoicism, with it's misguided focus on voluntary hardship.  The world would not be a better place if everyone still had to grow their own food, for example.  Sometimes making life easier really is an improvement.

My wife refuses to use any of our kitchen knives except one small one (a steak knife).  She uses it to slide bread and carve turkeys and dice vegetables and core apples and slice cheese and open cardboard boxes.  Her life is measurably more miserable because she refuses to use the correct tool for the job.  Are our fancy kitchen knives a crutch?  Do they make our kitchen chores so easy that we fail to appreciate them?  Would a stoic recommend trying to use the wrong knife for every job in the name of simplicity and personal challenge?  No thanks.

Voluntary discomfort is not a higher good in itself. It's something that helps you know what's important to you

This is a relevant observation, and one that I think is often overlooked here.  MMM's article about having to go hungry while travelling as an example of stoicism was somewhat misleading.  He's able to "enjoy" an unexpected fast because he's wealthy and well fed most of the time.  There is no value in being hungry; billions of people are hungry today and most of them are children and they do not see any upside in their experiences of it.  For them it just sucks, because being hungry sucks.  It's kind of shameful to say that you "enjoy" suffering as a personal challenge when so many genuinely needy folks don't have that option.  For example, the shanty town resort is an affront to humanity, but a rough analogy to what this forum often promotes as worthwhile stoicism.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2014, 01:20:23 PM »
i dont like being forced into complying with normally held ideas. 730-530 workdays ... i want the freedom to choose and do what i want .. when i want.  if i want to go to europe for 6 months i want the financial stability to do that.  the goals of people in ER are different if you get up and go to work everyday and love what you do more power to you... if you're challenged and love the advancement more power to you...

i love what i do... i dont like the structure modern society puts on they way you're supposed to do it.  Basically b/c we have decided that sitting at a desk for 8 hours equates to a certain salary based on the type of work you do.  NOT the way it should be ... in school you dont get an A b/c you you showed up to class every day and spent 4 hours per night studying.  you get an A b/c you learned the material.  a truly efficient company would understand and equate value to a task being completed.  If you're making more money more of said tasks should be able to be completed in the same amount of time than someone else.  i know this type of structure falls in line with a commission based system but just being somewhere 8 hours is a bad metric to measure by. 

and for this i will retire early... and probably end up starting something on my own in retirement that i can do and manage when/if i feel like doing something.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2014, 02:20:27 PM »
"Does early retirement contradict badassity?"

Yes.  If your only definition of "badassity" is "doing paid work at a traditional job."  Then ERing from said job contradicts badassity.

If that's not your only definition of the word, then no.  Why couldn't you ER to go do other badass stuff?
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 02:22:00 PM by arebelspy »
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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2014, 02:27:10 PM »
^^^^^^^^^^^ this.  life's what you make it.  working for the man pays the bills and lets me lead a pretty awesome life. 

saving will let me lead that life forever not working for the man

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2014, 02:55:31 PM »
In summary, is ER a veiled waste of human potential and should we feel ashamed of it in company of hard-working high-achievers?

One should not confuse professional potential with human potential.  Retiring early may run counter to the first but absolutely blows the ceiling off the second. 

sol

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2014, 03:00:40 PM »
One should not confuse professional potential with human potential.

You don't need to confuse them to realize that sometimes they are the same thing.  Depends on your job.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2014, 03:08:48 PM »
My calling and best skill is being a slacker.  I just want to get better at it but not in too big a way.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2014, 03:45:03 PM »
I view badassity as a means to an end (of having to tolerate corporate BS).  Of course, in order for that end to play out as planned, a certain level of fiscal badassity must continue on through the rest one's life.

Continuing on after one has "enough" is simply greed. Perhaps if you decided to continue on and dedicate all your efforts toward improving the world, that would probably qualify as being pretty badass as well.

Well come on - that's pretty silly.  There are plenty of reasons to continue on in your profession (and to accept money in doing so) that don't constitute greed.

Agreed, for example if you have kids that are in school all day anyways.  Might make sense to go to work while they are in school in order to give them a better life.  I'd call this selflessness, not greed.
Continuing on after one has "enough" is simply greed.

Yeah, that's actually quite offensive to anyone who pursues Financial Independence but not RE.  And yes, I'll be happy to be more charitable later in life, but it's also counterproductive to say that you have to start giving away money once you have 'enough' but are only in your 30's and 40's.  I don't want to become a charity case myself.  Sure, maybe I'll have much more than enough, but until I'm 60 or 70, it's hard to tell....

Looks like I hit a nerve!  I believe you are assigning more of a negative connotation to the word greed than I intended in my use. With the exception of a few monks, we all want more than the bare minimum needed to survive. How much more is "enough" is a question for which there is no defined answer as it depends on the individual.  Many will never have "enough".  As it pertains to badassity, I think a monk who grows only what he needs and spends the rest of his time teaching and caring for the unfortunate for no return is right up at the top of my badassity scale.       

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2014, 06:13:12 PM »
Imagine a hypothetical employer who invests $200k into educating you, training you, developing your skills, and getting you started on a productive career path.  How do you think that employer will feel when you up and quit six months later?  Now, consider that YOU are the employer (and also the employee), the person who spent time and money to develop your own skill set, which you promptly abandoned.  Why is that any different?  Why aren't you mad at yourself?

I had a bit of a wrangle with myself about this a while ago, thinking about my postgrad. But why should I be mad at myself? I haven't upped and left with anything, leaving myself lacking. I still have all the skills I spent all that money learning - I just wouldn't be using them right then .

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2014, 06:55:42 PM »
Why is a human required to fulfill any sort of potential, professional or otherwise?

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2014, 07:01:35 PM »
I like your critical thinking and I can understand why you might say that ER isn't badass at all. As I see it, and I think this point you have raised might be entirely different for every person, ER is just a means of freedom and having the option to choose what you do with your time. I don't think that if you obtain FI you should feel obligated to sit around on the beach and drink daiquiris or to do small jobs that appeal to you. In my case, I am using my minor FI to work less hours and spend more time volunteering and getting to know my city (which is ginormous and changing every day). The bottom line is that you should do whatever makes you happy and if ER is a means of allowing you to do what you wanna do, then that should be your goal. :)

If the traditional sense of "retirement" doesn't appeal to you (which it probably doesn't, fellow Mustachian ; ) ), then you are not alone and it's A-OK ("retirement" is arbitrarily defined by society anyways - it's a fake utopia). Traditional "retirement" is just bumming around. We want "super-retirement", where we continue to contribute to society, but we define the ways we do it. That's my story anyhow. Don't think of it as retirement, think of it as a life upgrade with more options and freedom.

bacchi

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2014, 11:07:43 PM »
Why is a human required to fulfill any sort of potential, professional or otherwise?

You asked to be born into this world and you damn well better feel obligated to contribute back!

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2014, 11:45:08 PM »
Why is a human required to fulfill any sort of potential, professional or otherwise?

You asked to be born into this world and you damn well better feel obligated to contribute back!
Damn funny, bacchi!

My answer to the OP's question is: Meh? What I was doing in my career wasn't all that important anyway. I was always in sales and what the hell does it matter if I sold more carpet/rugs/high-end men's clothing/writing instruments, BBQ & cigarette lighters/cosmetics in a world where consumerism is worshipped? I was reasonably successful in my career, good enough to reach FIRE anyway, but nothing I sold was anything I'd consider essential or even important. Sure, there were things I enjoyed about my jobs and I met a lot of people I liked along the way, but better than being retired? Not a chance! Now that I am retired, I'm volunteering in my community more than ever and I am certain that what I do is useful and valued.

I'd venture to guess that a lot of jobs are like mine were. Most of us are not curing cancer. And even if you are curing cancer, your life comes first. If you feel you want or need it back, you are free to do so. What a country!

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2014, 05:27:15 AM »
The sad truth for many people is that they have meaningless lives and dead-end jobs.  Not everyone can be Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett, doing amazing work 16 hours a day for their whole life.  For those who have ended up on a dead-end, the best course of action is to quit now and start doing something they feel passionate about.  (MMM was passionate about home building and might be a successful mega-developer today if he hadn't been burned by his friend and decided to bail out on everything.  He's basically a quitter of both his job and his dream job.)  But, because most people feel trapped by self-imposed costs (home, car, family), they lack the courage to quit and pursue their dreams. The second best alternative (for those who are truly unhappy) is to go into emergency financial mode for as long as it takes to escape the whole scenario and pass their days blogging and riding their bikes to Costco. 

I have worked with three different technical scientists who quit their lucrative jobs after 15 years because they lost interest.  One was a beach bum for a year then resumed work at a much smaller company, another became an artist and the third enrolled in landscape architecture school.  None of them saved like crazy for 10 years and then retired; they just abruptly quit, downgraded their lifestyle appropriately, and pursued their passions.  All have had long and successful careers doing what they really love and only wish they had done it sooner.

wtjbatman

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2014, 05:41:45 AM »
Speak for yourselves you overachievers, as part of my FIRE plans I'm saving up to purchase a Hoveround. These feet will never touch the ground again.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2014, 06:05:32 AM »
Another couple hundred thousand and I can complete my giant robot . . . and commence with my ER plans to terrorize Tokyo.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2014, 06:55:53 AM »
He he, I have wondered about this from a different angle. MMM was a computer engineer, which is a relatively prestigious profession which requires quite a bit of training.  To become a successful engineer he must have had some major love for computers and studied quite a bit....

I was having a discussion about this last night. I have a BS, MS, and several post-masters certifications all in computer science (with focus on computer security and distributed computing). My wife has a BS in MIS and an MS in computer science. Our friend has a BS, MS, and PhD in computer science. If money were no object, all three of us agreed that we would never again do any programming or any computer-based work at all, in a heartbeat. Part of that is the difference between how we feel being good at something vs being great at it; in terms of skill, my wife is in the top 25% tier of programmers; our friend is in the top 15%; I'm probably in the top 5%. But there are several orders of magnitude of difference between where we are and someone in the top 2%. To be satisfied from a work perspective, that's where we each would really need to be. But none of us has the interest to maintain our skillset at that level -- life has too much more to offer.

For reference, my wife was in the workforce for about 5 years before we reached the point that we could become an almost single-income household (the concept of it being considered early retirement didn't dawn on us then, and she still spends a few hours a week maintaining our side business). Our friend has been in the workforce for about 10 years, and has no concept of early retirement, though he has shifted into a less-technical, more management position which fits him better. Since I worked in the computer industry before and during college, I'm right around the 15-year mark, and I'm chomping at the bit to finish up and hang up my hat*.

*All of that having been said, I could foresee spending some time away from the grind of it all and then picking the skill back up to further projects and efforts that seemed truly meaningful. Part of the dissatisfaction stems from time & skills currently being applied to tasks that seem mostly meaningless (save for generating financial profit).

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2014, 07:08:48 AM »
As a recent FIRE-er, I can testify that the badassity drive increases. 

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2014, 09:11:10 AM »
Interesting, I didn't think of it in terms of percentiles! It does make sense that if you're the best in the world you would enjoy the job more than if you were "merely" in the top 25%.

I completely understand that doing something as part of the corporate grind can suck the joy out of anything, even if you love it.

So let me ask you this:do you still find any joy from messing around and designing a neat solution to an interesting computer security problem?

Would you miss the technical challenges if you were early retired and having an otherwise good life but were not using any of your hard won knowledge?

For me, I do think I would miss using my math and computer science skills to an extent, but obviously that would depend on what new and exciting challenges I would be facing.

Also clearly age is a big factor, I am sure if I end up retiring at age 70, after a good 40 years of working, I will miss using my skills a lot less than if I (had) retired at age 30!

I ended up in a position doing full-stack web application development for an oil & gas inspections company. I don't actually use the security side of my skillset all that much. It's there as a consideration for things I do, but it's not center stage.

I believe that in post retirement days, a lot of aspects of my abilities will be satisfied through my art, writing, and study of chess. The mathy side of me would be satisfied by delving back into poker during post-retirement, as well as designing and optimizing plans for physical things I plan to build (tapping into the carpentry background from which I picked up bits and pieces from my dad). And a lot of everything will get a boon through teaching my offspring the same skills, assuming they are moderately interested.

To your point about the 70-year-old retirement vs a 30-year-old retirement, I actually suspect that the longer one lives in the corporate world, the harder they find it to exist outside of that world after retiring.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2014, 10:29:32 AM »
Like all isms, yes it is full of contradictions.  The one that has been bugging me the most recently is Stoicism, with it's misguided focus on voluntary hardship.  The world would not be a better place if everyone still had to grow their own food, for example.  Sometimes making life easier really is an improvement.

My wife refuses to use any of our kitchen knives except one small one (a steak knife).  She uses it to slide bread and carve turkeys and dice vegetables and core apples and slice cheese and open cardboard boxes.  Her life is measurably more miserable because she refuses to use the correct tool for the job.  Are our fancy kitchen knives a crutch?  Do they make our kitchen chores so easy that we fail to appreciate them?  Would a stoic recommend trying to use the wrong knife for every job in the name of simplicity and personal challenge?  No thanks.


I don't disagree with your general points, but I think I recognize something of my own motivation in your wife. I was at a fancy kitchen store and they had huge spatulas especially for omelets. I always screw up flipping omelets. But I decided not to get it because I know that my current spatula is adequate for omelets and I want to improve my skill level rather than buying my way out of a challenge.

I say my spatula is adequate for omelets based on having seen other people make standard spatulas work for omelets, but it's not necessarily a decision that has to be crowd-sourced. Sure, a large percent of people might feel your wife could use specialized knives for the correct purpose, but there are also people out there who think we need a specialized banana slicer.

If I were dictator-for-a-day, I'd feel I should come up with some snazzy, rigorous system to draw the line between luxury/improvement/badassity/crippling choices, but if you're just making choices for yourself then you go, girl, you use that steak knife. Er, what I mean is, we should regularly examine our choices and the philosophy behind them, but they might end up appearing wrong-headed to others.

mm1970

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2014, 10:45:35 AM »
It's an interesting perspective.  I think I read (on here), someone's suggestion that it is our duty to look after others too.  I wonder sometimes about all these different perspectives.

1.  You shouldn't spend money on coffee or alcohol (unneeded things), instead donate to charity.
2.  If you are able to work and earn a lot of money and pay a lot of taxes - do it!  And donate money to charity to take care of the less fortunate.
3.  It's your duty to stay at home with your children 24/7 if you can afford it.
4.  If you are a 2-career couple with kids and can afford to have one person at home, you should, because one of the spouses is "taking a job away from a man who needs to support a family".

I guess for me, charity begins at home.  It's first my responsibility to care for my family and ensure them a stable future.  That's where MMM comes in.  If you get all badass, then you ensure your future earlier than most, and then can spend your time doing what you WANT.

Some of it is that things have changed a lot.  You know, my parents never made much money.  In my blue collar family, you worked until you can get social security or a pension, then you retire ASAP.  A job was a means to support your family.  If you are lucky, you like your job, but maybe not.  My family members retired at 55, 57, 60, 62 (thinking of 2 sisters and my dad and my stepdad, as a start).  They were gas company employee, auto mechanic, manager at The Gap, and bookkeeper/ accountant.  In their days, your work week was 40 hours, not a minute more.  It wasn't this all-encompassing thing that "professional" jobs are today.  It was a means to an end.

Iron Mike Sharpe

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2014, 11:22:30 AM »
We only get a finite amount of time until we cease to exist. 

I work for a big corporation writing requirements documents for software engineers.  I have to put up with a countless amount of bureaucratic procedural BS. 

I plan on quitting as soon as I can so that I can enjoy the rest of my life fully doing whatever I want whenever I want.  "Work" is meaningless.  I am a replaceable cog. 

mak1277

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2014, 11:31:16 AM »
This raises an interesting question for me:

How good at something do you have to be for your loss to be truly meaningful?  Followed up with: What type of job is truly a value to society?

For me, I'm an accountant by trade, worked at a big Audit firm and I'm now the head of internal audit for a company.  But I can say with absolute certainty that the totality of my career has not produced any actual value to the world.  At least not any value that couldn't have been replaced if someone else had been hired in my place.  I just think the number/percentage of people that are truly irreplaceable is amazingly small. 

Also, I could argue that for every person who REs, that opens up a spot in the job market which would trickle down to someone that is unemployed or newly entering the workforce.  Retiring voluntarily gives someone else a chance.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #39 on: October 31, 2014, 11:41:39 AM »
In summary, is ER a veiled waste of human potential and should we feel ashamed of it in company of hard-working high-achievers?

One should not confuse professional potential with human potential.  Retiring early may run counter to the first but absolutely blows the ceiling off the second.

THIS.  My first reaction to the original post was "what is high achievement?"  I'm no nihilist, but what exactly is the point of being the best/richest/most admired accountant/welder/decorator/engineer if you don't need the money any more and your employer isn't achieving some kind of noble social/environmental/etc aim?  What is "success"?  Dying with the most money possible?  Making sure that your boss as sad as possible when you leave (because you did so much work)?  All other things being equal, the admiration of your peers is probably a nice thing to have, but is that really the end goal?

I freely admit that there are people doing compensated work that has inherent non-financial value to the world, but many of us work in jobs that have only the most abstract importance outside of our own personal finances.  FI (and potentially RE) really open up the possibilities to contribute to good works (or things that you just like doing) of a less than profitable nature.  And if you happen to get paid a lot for that work by accident, great.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #40 on: October 31, 2014, 11:49:50 AM »
Whew! Thank you for the many and entertaining responses!

I'm going to attempt to summarize what I read so far and throw in a few more own thoughts and follow-up questions. Don't hesitate to correct me if I got some of your ideas wrong. The main points in this thread so far seem to be (paraphrased in quotes, with my comments below):

1. "I suffer from lack of freedom in a dead-end boring job, so I want FIRE." This doesn't sound logical to me. Why wait until (early) retirement? Why not simply take on another, better, more interesting job? Wouldn't that be more badass than accumulating your stash while feeling like a victim?

2. "I wanna do what I love / find enjoyable, therefore FIRE." Yes, I get it, but this is besides the point of the original question, which was regarding the badass attitude.

Currently, I find it enjoyable to read books and watch YouTube videos in my "non-work" time.

I must admit I don't really have a deep drive toward any great achievements outside of my profession (I wish I had) nor do I have any other qualifications to speak of (not so sure if I should seek them, though). I do, however, realize that if you don't put pressure on people like myself, they will underperform by default. If you are isolated from competition, it's very easy to trick oneself into thinking that you're "doing just great" while in reality you're just mediocre. For example, top scientists are working for universities and subjecting themselves to peer review all the time, not writing up their theories in online blogs and founding circles of admiration (this is what the kooky "alternative" types like to do).

3. Losing the hardly earned skills and status. Yes, this quite concerns me. Once you drop out of a profession (or even, in some lines of work, "retire" from industry into academia), you fairly quickly lose the edge and maybe even touch with reality. Let's not fool ourselves, from professional perspective it is the continuous training that makes us the real badasses, and it is conceivably less likely that you will train yourself just as hard when you declare yourself "retired". Others won't expect it from you either - "oh yes, he was a great <insert profession here>, pity he's now retired (= can't be relied upon)". So there is certainly a loss of social status. Which some of you say should not concern a real badass all that much. But I beg to differ - a badass for me is someone who others look up to, not some sort of "anti-social hermit prick indulging in his hobbies" together with a bunch of friends/groupies. (It's telling that this is often the behavior of people who came into their riches by means of inheritance or being born in a rich family; they are generally a rather sad bunch.)

4. "I just wanna do X (or don't wanna do Y) - I owe the world nothing!" and "I wanna grow as a human not as some robot worker!" To me this sounds very much like something our spoiled hermit prick would bring up (and I will admit, being a lone wolf myself, it does sound alluring). It also fits the concept of "FU" money, "independence" and "self-sustainability" nicely. Unfortunately, these are rather childish concepts in a highly interconnected modern world.

Thinking it over, I agree that you don't owe the world to stick to a shitty dead-end salesman job, slaving away for benefit of your ideological enemy, or some such. But I sense there may be inherent joy and gratification in actually acting as if you owed the world something (rather than in the opposite way).

This seems, at first glance, compatible with the idea of retiring to do more community/charity work, but I am also suspicious of that argument, in a Randian sort of way.

In a capitalistic society money/income has a signal function - the "more important" types of work, as perceived by society, tend to pay more than the "less important" types simply because they are harder to substitute. Consequently, consuming and having fun tends to pay nothing - these activities require you to compensate someone for your abstinence from producing. So as I see it, it would be honest enough to claim "I want to give up producing as soon as I can, so that I can consume more". But it's not genuine to call yourself badass at the same time - you're then like a disciplined alcoholic who is waiting to afford themselves a lot of drinks later (while possibly showing off toward some of the less disciplined friends who can't abstain from the regular habit). Not exactly a role model!

5."But Raay, the whole badassity is just a means to an end and has always been meant so!" (the end presumably being future relaxed consumption). Okay, if you put it so, I am satisfied, but then the answer to my question "does early retirement contradict badassity" is a definitive YES. Then we should each decide which will make us more happy: early retirement or actual badassity, but please don't confuse them with each other.

6. "Stoicism is not masochism - not about needless suffering or deprivation!" I agree, and I think MMM does, too! In fact stoicism in its modern wrapping of badassity is about hardening yourself to achieve more, become less prone to suffering, and get more satisfaction from what you achieve (not in the least by comparison with other less badass folks who tend to fret about nothing or suffer from their perceptions of unfulfilled entitlement).

In a sense it (as it often does) comes down to the definition of what "retirement" means. To me, and I suppose to most people who hear the word, it is something along "doing what you want, worry-free from economic and maybe also other external constraints". I guess my own doubts boil down to the point: does retirement (early or not) really bring satisfaction to the retiree? And if it does, isn't this a sign that the retiree has screwed up before retirement and then "managed to get away"? Certainly, managing an (early) escape is better than not, but should this even be our goal? Isn't it just plain lazy and self-degrading, given how easy it is for saving-savvy high-earners in developed countries?

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2014, 12:33:49 PM »
Have to disagree on almost all counts Raay, it sounds like you still value money and status over freedom and self-worth. I consider it totally badass to shun the common consumerism model and break away from the 9-5 slog through dicipline and savings, all while doing more of what you love and helping others.

Kaspian

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2014, 12:53:06 PM »
This is just one of those devil's advocate stances for the sake of it, isn't it?  To try and stir the pot attempt some sort of muckraking?  MMM used to sit around programming in a cube all day.  Probably making himself blind staring at a monitor in an office with no windows that open and poor lighting/ventilation.  Look at him now--walking around with hammers and nailguns all day. 

Don't you think your (verbose) attempts to psychoanalyze everyone's "veiled" reasons for wanting early retirement is arrogant as hell?

Raay

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #43 on: October 31, 2014, 01:02:29 PM »
Also, I could argue that for every person who REs, that opens up a spot in the job market which would trickle down to someone that is unemployed or newly entering the workforce.  Retiring voluntarily gives someone else a chance.

I disagree. There's a true economic cost to replacing experienced staff with fresh hires, if only because of the lost organizational knowledge. That's why high-ranking people are paid so well and fresh hires aren't. Sure you can replace everyone (except some geniuses) with investment and time, but it has a very real cost. Unless you are in an extremely competitive field, you aren't doing others a favor by retiring from what you're good at. You're maybe doing a favor yourself by freeing up your time. Or maybe you're making yourself a disfavor by regretting it later. This it the point of my asking.

Eric

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #44 on: October 31, 2014, 01:16:13 PM »
I don't really understand this thread at all.  How many people do you know who retired in their 30s or 40s?  I can count them all on one hand, even if I make a fist with it.  Retiring in your 30s or 40s is by definition badass.  There's no contradiction.  It's the motherfucking definition!

mak1277

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #45 on: October 31, 2014, 01:19:26 PM »
Also, I could argue that for every person who REs, that opens up a spot in the job market which would trickle down to someone that is unemployed or newly entering the workforce.  Retiring voluntarily gives someone else a chance.

I disagree. There's a true economic cost to replacing experienced staff with fresh hires, if only because of the lost organizational knowledge. That's why high-ranking people are paid so well and fresh hires aren't. Sure you can replace everyone (except some geniuses) with investment and time, but it has a very real cost. Unless you are in an extremely competitive field, you aren't doing others a favor by retiring from what you're good at. You're maybe doing a favor yourself by freeing up your time. Or maybe you're making yourself a disfavor by regretting it later. This it the point of my asking.

Of course there is a cost but there is still a benefit of a job that needs to be filled (whether it's the job I'm leaving, or a job farther down the line if you promote someone).  Unless a position is eliminated, you can't really disagree with the premise that a retiree opens a job for someone else somewhere.

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #46 on: October 31, 2014, 01:21:24 PM »
Retiring in your 30s or 40s is by definition badass.  There's no contradiction.  It's the motherfucking definition!

Amen!!  ...But he'd find a way to argue it.  That is the real point of the thread, the arguing--not us justifying FIRE.  What's the word for when somebody intentionally misrepresents and pretends to misunderstand what everyone is saying just so they can keep going on?  If I was British, I'd just say "taking the piss".

mak1277

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #47 on: October 31, 2014, 01:25:48 PM »
What's the word for when somebody intentionally misrepresents and pretends to misunderstand what everyone is saying just so they can keep going on? 

It's two words actually: "the internet"

Raay

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #48 on: October 31, 2014, 01:49:05 PM »
This is just one of those devil's advocate stances for the sake of it, isn't it?  To try and stir the pot attempt some sort of muckraking?  MMM used to sit around programming in a cube all day.  Probably making himself blind staring at a monitor in an office with no windows that open and poor lighting/ventilation.  Look at him now--walking around with hammers and nailguns all day.

Yes, and I don't criticize MMM specifically for slacking off. Maybe his true vocation was to become a carpenter/handyman/prophet and he chose the wrong career in the first place?

Quote
Don't you think your (verbose) attempts to psychoanalyze everyone's "veiled" reasons for wanting early retirement is arrogant as hell?

Well, I expected defensiveness (even being called the Internet Retirement Police - I find it quite amusing how ideologies/religions tend to invent apriori defenses against criticism by pulling off the good old ingroup/outgroup trick). I also anticipated not being taken seriously by true believers (very early in first post), but I still don't think that my thinking out loud is more arrogant than your (not so much) "veiled" attempt to suppress it (but I'll leave it at that!)

bugbaby

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Re: Does early retirement contradict badassity?
« Reply #49 on: October 31, 2014, 01:55:25 PM »
Hehehe ...fetching the popcorn...its gonna get real ugly up in here :)