Author Topic: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?  (Read 8354 times)

JLee

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I thought I'd ask the fine folks here...I just read this-
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/01/a-millionaire-is-made-ten-bucks-at-a-time/

and this line stood out to me:
Quote
If you save $796 per week for ten years, and get a 7% compounded investment return after inflation, youíll have $600,000 sitting around ready to party for you. As you can see in the footnote section below, that is more than enough to start a nice Early Retirement, especially if your house is paid off. Maybe more than twice as much as you need, but since we do conservative calculations here at MMM, letís roll with that number.

The thought pattern illustrated in the blog went from saving $10 at a time to saving $796 a week - written in such a matter of fact 'anyone can do it' sorta way. That's approximately my entire net pay now (which has grown by $25k/yr gross over the last ~2.5 years; it used to be much less). Interestingly, the numbers listed there are what I've figured out that I need to save in order to retire by 40 (approximately $50k/yr)-- but that is not going to happen unless my career skyrockets. That said, I have managed to go from $33k to $58k salary in less than three years, so saving 50k should be possible eventually (if my income continues to scale).

My SO reads stories like this and is inspired. I read stories like this and am frustrated- because unlike many of the case studies posted here, I don't have $5000, $7500, etc a month in net income with which to play with.

So, how do you do it and what works for you? I would like to be encouraged and motivated by others' successes instead of getting frustrated by comparing myself to them.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 11:24:45 PM by JLee »

lindsayk

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 03:13:16 PM »
I dont have any kind of success story to inspire you with but wanted to you to know that you just took the words right out of my head as to what ive been feeling lately. I love the idea of being FI and possible RE but make only $35k a year and was excited at the idea of finally being able to contribute the 3% to my 401k that my employer matches. Ive also felt frustrated at wondering how to get where I want to go when I feel like I dont have much to work with. Look forward to hearing any suggestions anyone else has. Good look to you!

decessus

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2015, 03:16:42 PM »
I find this case study to be rather inspirational, as this person was making $12/hour....I think at a certain salary level, you have to start your own side hustle and try to grow that into a business that pays you well IMHO.   http://affordanything.com/2015/03/31/how-erin-saved-one-years-worth-of-expenses-quit-her-job-and-enjoys-more-flexibility/

StockBeard

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 03:47:00 PM »
There are certainly limits to how low your income can be and still retire "early". MMM is not hiding the fact that he and his wife had a total income of 6 figures which allowed them to do that.
Their yearly expenses of about $24K are pretty badass, but assume a paid mortgage. Also MMM never counts taxes in his stories, because he found ways to minimize his income which minimizes tax as well. As long as you're in "accumulating" period, you need income, and that means taxes. I found that it's extremely easy for me, my wife and 2 kids to live under $25K a year if we don't include our rent and taxes. Add the rent/taxes and all of a sudden we're above your yearly income!

I have a higher income than you do, but I tend to agree that at 35K a year you really need to think out of the box to save significantly (see below, or see the post by decessus above). For the OP who's now at 58K, it probably depends a lot on your family situation, but that's a decent income. Are you married, with children? Is that the entire income for a family, or a single person?

I think at a certain salary level, you have to start your own side hustle and try to grow that into a business that pays you well IMHO.   
+1 on that. I myself have a side thing that is doing better every year. What started as a "money on the side" hobby is progressively becoming my fastlane to FIRE. There is a lot of sacrifice involved to make it work in the long run, so your side business needs to be driven by passion IMO. There are days where I don't see my kids at all because I'm out before they wake up, and I'm back after they go to bed, just because I spent 4h on my side gig, in addition to my 10h at work.

JLee

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 04:14:10 PM »
Single income, no kids, plus rental (roommate) income. I'm doing pretty well overall (roughly $70k gross), but still nowhere near being able to save $50k/yr. With my current mindset, I'm sure once I hit $100k I'll be wishing I was at $200k, etc...so I'd like to find a way to shift my mental outlook. I would like to find the "We saved $60k net income this year" inspiring instead of thinking what the fuck, that's more than I took home entirely. :P

I am tempted to post a case study, but I'm not mustachian enough to not just get defensive over the incessant facepunching that will inevitably ensue. :)
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 04:15:44 PM by JLee »

h2ogal

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 04:44:09 PM »
Let me help you by sharing my experience.  When I was 25 I first started thinking about retirement.  I estimated I would need $70K/year in future dollars to have a comfy life with travel and fun in retirement.   I also figured I need to save, on average $20K per year.  At the time I barely MADE $20K per year and didn't have a job with a 401K, matching or any advantages like that.  I felt, there is NO WAY I will EVER be able to have a nice Retirement.  But, I didnt give up.  I started saving and just hoped for the best...

Fast forward....   My house is paid for and I have enough savings to be able to retire in 2 more years.   Once my savings went over 200K the market growth rate usually accounted for more of the nest egg growth than what I was contributing from my paycheck.   Once I got a job with a 401K and matching the savings really sped up.

Now in many ways you have a huge advantage over me:
  • My nest egg grew very slowly because I knew nothing about investing
    I didn't have access to a 401K til I was much older
    I didn't have a forum like this with great folks to help with cost saving and investing ideas

You will get there.
 


Spondulix

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 08:15:30 PM »
Financial growth is an exponential curve. My first job out of college 10 years ago I was making $12/hr ($24k), and I jumped to $30k, $50k, $60k, $80k, $130k (over 10 years). In the middle years, I contributed $6k a year to my IRAs (500/month), and that was 10% of my income. This year, I'm going to be contributing about $20k - so in one year, I'm doing what took me 3 years back then.

Ultimately, it's about your savings rate - not the $$ amount of what you save. If you're happy retiring and living on $30k a year, you only need to save $22k a year and you'll be there in 7 years. It can be done depending on where you live.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

neophyte

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 09:18:54 PM »
Quote
If you save $796 per week for ten years, and get a 7% compounded investment return after inflation, you’ll have $600,000 sitting around ready to party for you. As you can see in the footnote section below, that is more than enough to start a nice Early Retirement, especially if your house is paid off. Maybe more than twice as much as you need, but since we do conservative calculations here at MMM, let’s roll with that number.

Well... that's only 122% of what I gross.... not exactly encouraging.

JLee

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2015, 11:18:58 PM »
Quote
If you save $796 per week for ten years, and get a 7% compounded investment return after inflation, youíll have $600,000 sitting around ready to party for you. As you can see in the footnote section below, that is more than enough to start a nice Early Retirement, especially if your house is paid off. Maybe more than twice as much as you need, but since we do conservative calculations here at MMM, letís roll with that number.

Well... that's only 122% of what I gross.... not exactly encouraging.

Yup, that's my point. I need to find a way to be encouraged by people saving my entire net income, instead of frustrated that I don't make 3x what I do.

Financial growth is an exponential curve. My first job out of college 10 years ago I was making $12/hr ($24k), and I jumped to $30k, $50k, $60k, $80k, $130k (over 10 years). In the middle years, I contributed $6k a year to my IRAs (500/month), and that was 10% of my income. This year, I'm going to be contributing about $20k - so in one year, I'm doing what took me 3 years back then.

Ultimately, it's about your savings rate - not the $$ amount of what you save. If you're happy retiring and living on $30k a year, you only need to save $22k a year and you'll be there in 7 years. It can be done depending on where you live.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

A lot of people say that, but a misrepresentation of reality - or at least, widely variable based on income (and the ability to move from a high pay / HCOL area to a LCOL area). Saving 25% of 200k is going to get you a lot farther than saving 50% of 50k.  $22k/yr for 7 years at 7% is less than $200k, giving you a 4% SWR of $7615/yr.  Even if we anticipate 10% returns, that's $208k returning 4% SWR of $8348/yr.

okits

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 12:17:23 AM »
Perhaps think less about inspiration you're just not feeling and focus more about what you need to do to get where you want to be.  The simple math is you need to increase your income, decrease your expenses, or both, to speed up your progress. Your own accelerated approach to FIRE will motivate you more than anyone else's story and create a virtuous circle of self-reinforcing behavior.

You're not eager for face punching, but is being less Mustachian worth a longer slog to your goal?  Lately I've held my feet to the fire a bit more, and told myself, "I'd rather be retired than get a frivolous Mother's Day gift, I'd rather be retired than have a takeout meal, etc." What progress you can make on your own stash is likely to be the most inspiring of all.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 04:49:01 AM »
Also keep in mind that's probably based on a double-income couple.

A double income couple bringing in a combined post-tax income of $1600pw, saving $800 of that, is a 50% savings rate.

But, the path to early retirement is all about your savings rate. Focus less on putting $x per week into savings, but rather having a >y% savings rate. Working on improving your skills and being more marketable in your job will help on the income side as well.

humbleMouse

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 06:25:44 AM »
I focus on the first 100k.  If I can get 100k saved up it's all good.  I also don't treat "retirement" like it's going to be me not working at all.  To me, financial freedom means being able to rent a studio and teach yoga classes or dance classes all day and not have to worry about making tons of $$ b/c I already have $$ saved.

superone!

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 07:04:35 AM »
I totally get this. One of my first posts was on how to stay motivated when you don't have a high income (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/low-earning-moustachian-living/) I now make quite a bit more than I used to, but I pay for it with a 30 mile-each-way commute.

RE this:
I focus on the first 100k.

I like it, but I'd say focus on the first 10k. Then the next 10k. To me, that feels a lot easier than looking at my measly savings account and trying to imagine 100k in there. If I had zero living costs it would still take me 2+ years to save that much money. 10k is a much more reasonable goal.

Guizmo

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2015, 07:30:57 AM »

A lot of people say that, but a misrepresentation of reality - or at least, widely variable based on income (and the ability to move from a high pay / HCOL area to a LCOL area). Saving 25% of 200k is going to get you a lot farther than saving 50% of 50k.  $22k/yr for 7 years at 7% is less than $200k, giving you a 4% SWR of $7615/yr.  Even if we anticipate 10% returns, that's $208k returning 4% SWR of $8348/yr.

Yes and no. The person saving 50% of 50k will retire much faster if all they spend is 25k. The person spending 150k and saving 50k will take much longer to get to have a mustache that will support 4%.

But really, you can save a lot with a low wage. I was at 40k in New York, but because I only spent $800 bucks a month, including rent, I had saved 15k. I used that money to buy a condo when I moved back home (had to borrow 20k but paid it off quickly.) Now I make about 42k at the job but with a paid off condo that I rent out and net $500 a month. They key is to keep your spending low.

starbuck

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2015, 07:38:11 AM »
Single income, no kids, plus rental (roommate) income. I'm doing pretty well overall (roughly $70k gross), but still nowhere near being able to save $50k/yr. With my current mindset, I'm sure once I hit $100k I'll be wishing I was at $200k, etc...so I'd like to find a way to shift my mental outlook. I would like to find the "We saved $60k net income this year" inspiring instead of thinking what the fuck, that's more than I took home entirely. :P

I am tempted to post a case study, but I'm not mustachian enough to not just get defensive over the incessant facepunching that will inevitably ensue. :)

I think the majority of those high dollar savers are part of a dual-income household, or an income outlier, like the finance person that pulls in $250k. Both my spouse and I make about the same as you, but it's our powers combined that catapults the savings to a high dollar level. But that also means that the stash we have set aside is to cover TWO adults, not just one. Health insurance, living space, food, travel, etc - all for +2 people. Remember to compare apples to apples. (Sure, some things aren't 2x the cost of 1, but we can't sit in the same plane seat, or eat the same cheeseburger... :) )

If you don't feel comfortable posting a case study (I wouldn't either!), maybe write one up for just yourself using MDM's template? Having your financial life written out in black and white makes things easier to evaluate objectively.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2015, 07:57:34 AM »
Here's what I do:

1. I don't read the MMM blog. The wealth and luck are too hard to read.

2. Compare my money/life to what it was at its worst. I literally take some moments/minutes to really remember how awful it was, and when I come back to my (lowish income, very simple) reality, I feel great!

3. Look at my own savings accounts, not MMM's, and consider how much more I have than 99% of the world, and even maybe 50% or something of the world, since most people in North America have little to no savings.

4. I moderate how many of the wealth posts and journals I read, and which ones. Journals that only list an exponential increase in savings each month from a massive income are too hard, so I avoid them. Journals that show vast wealth (assets, income) but which are balanced by humanity, stress, and a spouse blowing much of it, help me to see that wealth does not cure everything and is not entirely controllable; these are helpful for me. Journals of people with lower income and a lower savings rate -but still a movement forward- are also better for me.

So, I guess I'm saying to feel encouraged vs frustrated, honour what are the sources of each for you, and read mostly the sources of encouragement. Put blinders on where need be, focus on what fills you.

rubybeth

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2015, 08:22:17 AM »
That said, I have managed to go from $33k to $58k salary in less than three years, so saving 50k should be possible eventually (if my income continues to scale).

My SO reads stories like this and is inspired. I read stories like this and am frustrated- because unlike many of the case studies posted here, I don't have $5000, $7500, etc a month in net income with which to play with.

So, how do you do it and what works for you? I would like to be encouraged and motivated by others' successes instead of getting frustrated by comparing myself to them.

I have a similar income to you, and my DH is currently in grad school and only working part-time, so our income for the past few years has been pretty low (before grad school, he was working full time but only earning about $12/hour). Net income is around $3,000/mo right now (about $1,800 going into 401k/457b/HSA/pension each month out of our checks), and we're paying tuition without student loans. We keep our costs pretty low (avg. expenses about $2,200/month) and focus on smaller goals.

One suggestion I have is to set up an annual savings goal in Mint or whatever other way you like tracking your money. When we were getting out of debt, we kept a running tally in a spreadsheet and I liked watching the amount drop each month, and see how much interest we were saving on our student loans by paying them off early. Now, I like checking the net worth in Mint and seeing our progress toward our annual goal.

I would also say to review your previous work; if you have old budgets or information from those years when you were earning less, compare your earnings/budget to those, instead of others' budgets. I have everything in spreadsheets and can look back on our 2011 budget and see how we have avoided lifestyle inflation and as our incomes have gone up, we've just saved more and more. I also like thinking about how we managed to pay for two used cars and paid off nearly $54k in student loans in less than four years. :)

JLee

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2015, 04:00:21 PM »
Thanks for the ideas, everyone :)

Here's what I do:

1. I don't read the MMM blog. The wealth and luck are too hard to read.

2. Compare my money/life to what it was at its worst. I literally take some moments/minutes to really remember how awful it was, and when I come back to my (lowish income, very simple) reality, I feel great!

3. Look at my own savings accounts, not MMM's, and consider how much more I have than 99% of the world, and even maybe 50% or something of the world, since most people in North America have little to no savings.

4. I moderate how many of the wealth posts and journals I read, and which ones. Journals that only list an exponential increase in savings each month from a massive income are too hard, so I avoid them. Journals that show vast wealth (assets, income) but which are balanced by humanity, stress, and a spouse blowing much of it, help me to see that wealth does not cure everything and is not entirely controllable; these are helpful for me. Journals of people with lower income and a lower savings rate -but still a movement forward- are also better for me.

So, I guess I'm saying to feel encouraged vs frustrated, honour what are the sources of each for you, and read mostly the sources of encouragement. Put blinders on where need be, focus on what fills you.
I think I may need to take a break from the forum. Just skimming through random posts, seeing people FI years younger than I am, others with five figure monthly net incomes -- there's no way to avoid the constant reminder of how much 'better' so many other people are doing. I wonder if I will be in a better position to ignore everything here for a while and compare to myself, without the constant reminders of others.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2015, 04:11:56 PM »
I think I may need to take a break from the forum. Just skimming through random posts, seeing people FI years younger than I am, others with five figure monthly net incomes -- there's no way to avoid the constant reminder of how much 'better' so many other people are doing. I wonder if I will be in a better position to ignore everything here for a while and compare to myself, without the constant reminders of others.

Maybe. Though I strongly encourage you to stay! Don't "skim through random posts." Start a Journal, receive encouragement, and find other journals reflecting similar (or harder) circumstances. We have single parents who are the sole provider for themselves and their kids, a family of five whose house is underwater (mortgagely speaking) and student loan debts on one parent's income, families living in small apartments and barely getting by yet improving their lives by the month. Come hang out with us :)

lindsayk

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2015, 07:25:29 AM »
I found this reply in another thread and it really brought things into perspective for me. Hope it helps you too!

[/quote]

First off, I think you should post a case study. Really go in depth on your income and spending. That helps everyone be able to see where you can try to cut back. Get into those nitty gritty details.

I'm a low earning MMMer (I make $15 an hour). I work full time, support myself, have no other money coming in, and nothing I own or have or use is subsidized. My budget is currently around $800 a month, but will be rising to around $1050 when my student loans come out of grace and due to a recent elective surgery (LASIK). Like you, I'm 30, and just finished college and an now ready to enter my career. Once I find a job in my field I will be making more than I am now, but that's at least half a year away, and I will never make what many many people on these forums make (large salaries aren't common for the type of public service job I'll be doing). However there are definitely some things working in my favor. I live in a small midwestern city with a low COL. Literally everything is cheap here. Although "public transportation" is something mythical, so driving a car 60 miles a day to and from work is a necessity.

I stay motivated because I don't directly compare my numbers to those of other people. Doing that can be disheartening, I understand that. How can I compare with someone who says their combined household income is $150,000 a year, and they save $75,000 of that? Well, I look at it from the other perspective. They may save $75,000, but they are also spending $75,000. How big of a stash do they need if they want to keep spending that much in retirement? Over $1.5 million! Compare that to my (soon to be increased) spending of about $13,000 a year. Give me 1/6th of what they need and I can cover my current bills. And if they're saving $75,000 a year, that means I only need to save $12,500. Which I actually save more than, since I manage just under a 50% savings rate.

The key is perspective, and to not directly compare yourself to other people. I am able to stay motivated because I know what I both want (in regards to current and future happiness) and need, both now and in retirement. And those goals, MY goals, are very achievable for me. I can't save a $2 million stash like some lawyer posting on Bogleheads, but then again, I don't need to.
[/quote]

Spondulix

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2015, 11:17:08 PM »
A lot of people say that, but a misrepresentation of reality - or at least, widely variable based on income (and the ability to move from a high pay / HCOL area to a LCOL area). Saving 25% of 200k is going to get you a lot farther than saving 50% of 50k.  $22k/yr for 7 years at 7% is less than $200k, giving you a 4% SWR of $7615/yr.  Even if we anticipate 10% returns, that's $208k returning 4% SWR of $8348/yr.
The math in that link is sound... it sounds like it's not really the math that's in question - it's the conflict between:
1. living in a HCOL and not being able to save as much as you'd like (or afford what you'd like)
2. your earnings not being as high as you would like

And to both of those, I'd say that ultimately, you can fight your current situation, or you can accept it. There's always going to be someone making more money than you, so it's something you can accept (even if it's uncomfortable) or avoid. You've said a couple times now things to the effect of "there's younger people who are doing 'better' than me financially" You're right - there are. And some of them are probably smarter than us, work harder than us, and will probably have more money than we ever will. Some of them are probably awesome people that you'd enjoy being friends with - there is nothing wrong with them just as there is nothing wrong with you for your financial situation. But, would you rather accept that fact (and your financial situation today) and move forward with your life, or let the things that other people (that you don't even know) bother you to the point of wanting to go away?

I'd suggest taking a step back and look at your relationship with money. Why is it that it upsets you that people have more than you?

JLee

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2015, 11:54:31 PM »
A lot of people say that, but a misrepresentation of reality - or at least, widely variable based on income (and the ability to move from a high pay / HCOL area to a LCOL area). Saving 25% of 200k is going to get you a lot farther than saving 50% of 50k.  $22k/yr for 7 years at 7% is less than $200k, giving you a 4% SWR of $7615/yr.  Even if we anticipate 10% returns, that's $208k returning 4% SWR of $8348/yr.
The math in that link is sound... it sounds like it's not really the math that's in question - it's the conflict between:
1. living in a HCOL and not being able to save as much as you'd like (or afford what you'd like)
2. your earnings not being as high as you would like

And to both of those, I'd say that ultimately, you can fight your current situation, or you can accept it. There's always going to be someone making more money than you, so it's something you can accept (even if it's uncomfortable) or avoid. You've said a couple times now things to the effect of "there's younger people who are doing 'better' than me financially" You're right - there are. And some of them are probably smarter than us, work harder than us, and will probably have more money than we ever will. Some of them are probably awesome people that you'd enjoy being friends with - there is nothing wrong with them just as there is nothing wrong with you for your financial situation. But, would you rather accept that fact (and your financial situation today) and move forward with your life, or let the things that other people (that you don't even know) bother you to the point of wanting to go away?

I'd suggest taking a step back and look at your relationship with money. Why is it that it upsets you that people have more than you?

The math in the link is sound. The math in the post I quoted is not. The math was never in question; I'm not sure how you got that impression.

I am fighting my current situation, but with a drastic career change less than three years ago, it's going to take time (I started at the very, very bottom). I am constantly comparing myself to others - it's not that other people "bother me" - it's that the unending presence of extreme success is discouraging. It should be the opposite- I should be able to read that and think damn, I could do that too. The reason I think about taking a break from the forum is so I can move on with "my" life, without constantly comparing myself to other people - since I should be comparing myself to myself anyway.

Read my first post again - the MMM blog post starts off with "Save $10 at a time" and "$10 is a lot of money" - and the very next paragraph jumps directly to "save $3449/month!" Sometimes I feel that MMM's posts are disconnected from "normal" people. He flippantly talks about how he retired at 30 with two "normal" salaries - but clearing 100k at 27yo is not "normal" by any stretch of the word. I'm happy for him, sure, but the "it's so easy, any normal person with any normal salary can retire at 30" attitude is misleading.  Based on some responses here, I am not the only one who feels this way.

rubybeth

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2015, 07:18:46 AM »
I am fighting my current situation, but with a drastic career change less than three years ago, it's going to take time (I started at the very, very bottom). I am constantly comparing myself to others - it's not that other people "bother me" - it's that the unending presence of extreme success is discouraging. It should be the opposite- I should be able to read that and think damn, I could do that too. The reason I think about taking a break from the forum is so I can move on with "my" life, without constantly comparing myself to other people - since I should be comparing myself to myself anyway.

Maybe you should take a break from the forum, but also, if you aren't able to stop the endless comparison with others, try comparisons with people who are worse off than you. Surely you know someone who has borrowed more than you for school, taken out more mortgage for a house they didn't need, or bought a new car on credit. Surely you know people who live paycheck to paycheck. You also likely know someone who has filed for bankruptcy, someone who has lost it all in a divorce, or someone who had crazy medical bills and is still paying them off. And you probably know a teacher or two who aren't earning nearly what they are worth. You may not be the top earner in your peer group, but you likely aren't the lowest earner, either.

I think some of the posts on MMM can skew toward the seemingly impossible for the more modest income earners amongst us. I also liked the idea of posting a journal where you can post successes and get encouragement vs. reading others' posts.

And, if it helps, at age 27, I was earning less than $30k a year and my DH was unemployed. I'm now 34 and earning about double that, but it took a while, and DH is still in school. But we are doing better than the average American, and we save more than the common "rule of thumb" 15%, and we definitely don't live paycheck to paycheck. :)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2015, 07:21:18 AM by rubybeth »

mozar

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2015, 08:57:31 PM »
I got depressed when I realized how fast MMM could stache because of his relatively high income and that his numbers didn't include a mortgage. I felt sorry for myself for awhile. But it motivated me (and with encouragement from the forums) to get a higher paying job.  Also there are so many nonmonetary benefits to this website. Finding about FIRE gave me a feeling of purpose in life. Which helped me start taking my mental health more seriously, which helped me to start optimizing my life in other ways. I used to battle my way through crowds every day on the metro. I recently realized I could transfer at a different stop and avoid the crowds completely, and I fell less stressed in the morning. This website helps people start thinking.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2015, 09:07:48 PM »
The only way (short of the lottery) that I'm going to make MMM's level of stache is at gunpoint.

But ya know...I gave up caring what other people had/did/thought/ate/read/believed/etc in about the 8th grade.

There will ALWAYS be people with more money then you. There will ALWAYS be people with less.

You can get a side hustle.

You probably can cut your spending (I've read things on here that make me cringe but hey: it works for those people. I'm not gonna point fingers but dayammmmm...we have some tight members on here!)

You can (possibly) move to a lower COL or do a zero down/owner carry rental property or any manner of things that raise your stache level.

Do I get depressed I'm not rich? Do I want to pistol whip my boss once around the office? Do I wish I was FIRE, sitting on a beach with some boytoys and a Mai Tai?

Yep. Then the alarm goes off and I saddle up and fight another day.

You can too.

Spondulix

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2015, 02:05:23 AM »
I am fighting my current situation, but with a drastic career change less than three years ago, it's going to take time (I started at the very, very bottom). I am constantly comparing myself to others - it's not that other people "bother me" - it's that the unending presence of extreme success is discouraging. It should be the opposite- I should be able to read that and think damn, I could do that too. The reason I think about taking a break from the forum is so I can move on with "my" life, without constantly comparing myself to other people - since I should be comparing myself to myself anyway.

Read my first post again - the MMM blog post starts off with "Save $10 at a time" and "$10 is a lot of money" - and the very next paragraph jumps directly to "save $3449/month!" Sometimes I feel that MMM's posts are disconnected from "normal" people. He flippantly talks about how he retired at 30 with two "normal" salaries - but clearing 100k at 27yo is not "normal" by any stretch of the word. I'm happy for him, sure, but the "it's so easy, any normal person with any normal salary can retire at 30" attitude is misleading.  Based on some responses here, I am not the only one who feels this way.
I got a Masters Degree and my first full-time job was taking out the trash and picking up lunches for $10/hr - all while guys my age (who had been in the field for a few years with no training) were doing the job I trained for, earned $30/hr or more, and were doing a crap job at it. So I can empathize with your situation!

You're right that it's not normal for a 27 year old to clear 100k or retire at 30. One of the senior mustachians announced recently that they hit $1m and I think they were like 27. That's not normal, but why is it making you emotionally react at all? Ideally, it shouldn't be making you feel good or bad - it's just someone else's life choice. I think there has to be more going on here than just a little discouragement or encouragement, and the fact that you're "constantly comparing to others" implies an insecurity in yourself (or resentment towards something or someone else). How does it make you feel (other than discouraged) when you read this stuff? How do you feel when you compare to others?

Taking a break from the forum is only removing the thing that makes you feel bad - what happens when you come back? How much money would you need to be earning right now to feel like "I'm on par with the people I'm reading about"? If there's something more going on, then it's just going to be a cyclical "keeping up with the Joneses" except in this case it'd be like "one step below the Joneses."

Do you feel like you should be earning more than you are right now? If so, what is it that's holding you back? What's keeping you from saving 10% more than you are today? Are you interested in a side job for extra cash?

myrax

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2015, 11:28:54 AM »
I would also suggest taking a break from the forums if they are stressing you out. Goal setting theory posits that setting proximal (short-term) goals to works towards distal (long-term) goals will get better outcomes. If you just have a distal goal, it will be discouraging because it will feel so remote or impossible. If you just have proximal goals, they won't seem that significant as they aren't building towards anything.

MMM is all about the distal goal of FIRE, which isn't that far off if you make $100k per year and have no debt. The shorter-term goals that get talked about in the blog and the forum (e.g. 70% savings rate, first $100k) make a ton of sense for motivating high income households with 0 to 1 children. But for a household with a median income in the US, especially with children, they are actually pretty distal goals.

I HATED Mr. Money Mustache when I was 30, working my first job out of grad school, salaried at the equivalent of $15/hour, with student loan debt AND about $4k in credit card debt from moving halfway across the country to take the only job I could find. After the move, I was living quite a Mustachian life and attacking my debts, but I found it discouraging to hear people say making these sacrifices would get me to early retirement, when really I was just on schedule to be debt-free before 35 and retired at 65.

When my household income tripled in one week due to marriage and a small promotion, all of a sudden I found MMM incredibly motivating. The message hadn't changed- but in my new financial situation, getting to the first $100k became a short-term goal, FIRE became a possible long-term goal, and I was ready to sacrifice for something concrete.

When I was broke I found the old I will teach you to be rich posts incredibly practical and encouraging, because the short-term goals were more realistic for someone at my income level and the long term goals were seemed possible too. If you look at the archives, Ramit's old financial case studies usually looked at more normal problems, and while they involved some face punches, he had more supportive advice. He is a psychologist, after all.

JLee

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2015, 02:31:20 PM »
The only way (short of the lottery) that I'm going to make MMM's level of stache is at gunpoint.

But ya know...I gave up caring what other people had/did/thought/ate/read/believed/etc in about the 8th grade.

There will ALWAYS be people with more money then you. There will ALWAYS be people with less.

You can get a side hustle.

You probably can cut your spending (I've read things on here that make me cringe but hey: it works for those people. I'm not gonna point fingers but dayammmmm...we have some tight members on here!)

You can (possibly) move to a lower COL or do a zero down/owner carry rental property or any manner of things that raise your stache level.

Do I get depressed I'm not rich? Do I want to pistol whip my boss once around the office? Do I wish I was FIRE, sitting on a beach with some boytoys and a Mai Tai?

Yep. Then the alarm goes off and I saddle up and fight another day.

You can too.

I feel like I may be misinterpreted here. I'm not depressed or unhappy with my life in general. I am frustrated when I see other people (who were in unusual and fortunate circumstances) say how it's normal/easy. Ironically, I thought I was doing just fine until I started reading about people that retire within a couple of years of my own age. The awakening of a consuma-sucka is painful, haha.

Do you feel like you should be earning more than you are right now? If so, what is it that's holding you back? What's keeping you from saving 10% more than you are today? Are you interested in a side job for extra cash?
Yes, I am underpaid. My employer generally underpays (compared to industry standard) by 10-20% (and since I keep moving up within my company and didn't come in at my level, I am paid 15-20% less than outside hires for doing the same thing). However, in less than two years I learned enough to put me where I'd probably have been working 5-10 years elsewhere, so it's a temporary sacrifice for long term gain. Time is holding me back- it's tricky to say 'I'm worth 100k' when I've been doing something for less than three years without a college degree behind it. :P Promotion #5 might happen within 2 months. If it does, I'll ride that out for a bit and see what happens. If it doesn't, I will be aggressively looking for new jobs when I get back in the country this fall.  My pre-MMM goal was to earn $100k/yr by the time I turn 35.  I started at $16/hr less than three years ago (I am 31). I might now change that to 100k by 33, but I don't want to be too optimistic and end up frustrating myself. :D

Quote from: Spondulix
Taking a break from the forum is only removing the thing that makes you feel bad - what happens when you come back? How much money would you need to be earning right now to feel like "I'm on par with the people I'm reading about"? If there's something more going on, then it's just going to be a cyclical "keeping up with the Joneses" except in this case it'd be like "one step below the Joneses."
If removing the thing that makes me feel bad helps me work better and more efficiently on myself, what's wrong with that? If you were perpetually single but wanted to have a family and kids in 5 years, would you spend free time reading stories of happy families that started ten years ago, or would you spend your time trying to better yourself and start with step 1 on your own situation? That's sort of how I feel. Maybe I should spend more time in the journal section so I can watch other peoples' long-term journeys as they start from the beginning. :)

I want enough to be able to retire by 40.  Right now I need to double my anticipated current-rate future stache in order to make that remotely possible. Another $2000/mo would do it. I could find ways to sell stuff / reduce spending to where I'd only need another $1500/mo. It is possible, but not right now.

I have absolutely no worries about "normal" retirement; in fact I would be a multimillionaire.  I just don't want to wait 35 years to do it.  I am a not the most patient person ever, but generally the key to this whole thing is time. In order to make up for years of compound interest, I'd have to save a lot more (therefore earn a lot more, because I am  unwilling to compromise to the level of many people here -- but I do find, over time, I am willing to compromise more and more).

Racing myself to smaller goals is probably a good idea.

Spondulix

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2015, 03:32:05 PM »
If you were perpetually single but wanted to have a family and kids in 5 years, would you spend free time reading stories of happy families that started ten years ago, or would you spend your time trying to better yourself and start with step 1 on your own situation? That's sort of how I feel. Maybe I should spend more time in the journal section so I can watch other peoples' long-term journeys as they start from the beginning. :)
That's a really good point... Although there is a difference between hanging out on a parenting website when you're single, and a site that has parents and singles talking about relationships. That's what I see here - a wide variety of people here with a mutual interest (I dont think it's early retirement, either. I think we're all ultimately here for financial awareness). there's people who are younger doing better, but there are people who are older who are doing a lot worse. I've actually learned a lot about my spending habits just by reading case studies (especially the ones of people making more). It's something I wish I had access to back when I was making $10 or $15/hr because it absolutely would have helped me plan (and structure a new budget) every time I got a raise.

It almost sounds like you can see the end goal, but impatient that the game isn't moving fast enough. It's tough when you know your salary won't be the same in a couple years, but you don't know what it'll be.

Racing myself to smaller goals is probably a good idea.
Totally. I'm just learning this myself, also. Journaling has been useful - even just saying "my retirement account hit 10k/20k/25k" is a reminder that you that you are making progress in the right direction.

JLee

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Re: Finding encouragement instead of frustration - what works for you?
« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2015, 01:22:35 PM »
If you were perpetually single but wanted to have a family and kids in 5 years, would you spend free time reading stories of happy families that started ten years ago, or would you spend your time trying to better yourself and start with step 1 on your own situation? That's sort of how I feel. Maybe I should spend more time in the journal section so I can watch other peoples' long-term journeys as they start from the beginning. :)
That's a really good point... Although there is a difference between hanging out on a parenting website when you're single, and a site that has parents and singles talking about relationships. That's what I see here - a wide variety of people here with a mutual interest (I dont think it's early retirement, either. I think we're all ultimately here for financial awareness). there's people who are younger doing better, but there are people who are older who are doing a lot worse. I've actually learned a lot about my spending habits just by reading case studies (especially the ones of people making more). It's something I wish I had access to back when I was making $10 or $15/hr because it absolutely would have helped me plan (and structure a new budget) every time I got a raise.

It almost sounds like you can see the end goal, but impatient that the game isn't moving fast enough. It's tough when you know your salary won't be the same in a couple years, but you don't know what it'll be.

Racing myself to smaller goals is probably a good idea.
Totally. I'm just learning this myself, also. Journaling has been useful - even just saying "my retirement account hit 10k/20k/25k" is a reminder that you that you are making progress in the right direction.

Haha yeah, it is hard to plan without knowing the future.

I'm updating YNAB right now - I was months behind. I'm going to see how hard I can crunch down on expenses through the summer and see how things go. I am about to cross $40k in investments and have a rough FI goal of $600k, so if I can reach 10% by the end of the year (without counting home equity) I'll be thrilled. 10% is a good chunk of the way. :)