### Author Topic: What are your means?  (Read 12943 times)

#### alm0stk00l

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##### What are your means?
« on: March 04, 2014, 02:11:03 PM »
I hear the phrases "that person is living above their means" or "it is best to live below/within your means" but what are your means? Is there a particular calculation that anyone has thought of to identify your means? I would guess this would be directly related to the amount you make and is someone different than the typical MMM message because most spending is based on what you need. But I think it would be interesting to be able to identify your means. For fun, ya know? :)

I was thinking it would be something like:

- Determine how much it would cost for you to live from 62 until some expected death age, say 75  example: \$390,000
- Calculate the amount you would need saved to fund that amount of time                                       example: \$100,000
- Subtract your current amount saved from the above amount                                                           example: \$290,000
- Calculate the amount you save each year                                                                                        example: \$20,000
- Calculate the number of years you have left until 62                                                                        example: 30
- Multiply savings amount by years left                                                                                               example: \$600,000
- Determine if savings amount is greater than amount need                                                              example: \$600,000 > \$290,000 -> true

This would be someone living below their means. To be living at their means, this person would really only have to save a little less than \$10k/year. I based this off of the current retirement age. While I understand that most around here cannot fathom working until 62, this is more an exercise to determine what the average worker's means are.

I know there isn't a lot of value in this, but I still think it is interesting. :)

How would you calculate what your means are?

#### naturelover

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 08:36:46 PM »
I may be oversimplifying your question, but my "means" to me are simply what can I afford based on my income (since I am still a working person). When I think of someone living "above their means," I immediately think of credit card debt, leases on expensive cars, giant mortgages, nothing in savings, etc. Not that people can't have nice cars and big houses and still be nicely living within their means - it's just sort of a stereotype in my mind.

This is an interesting question, though, because it did make me pause and ask how would this be quantified in retirement. I think it's a bit more of a gray area, but I think that spending beyond a person's SWR might constitute living above one's means in retirement.

As a person who is working towards being retired early, I might consider myself to be living beyond my means if I were to start spending to the degree that I had to decrease my retirement savings rate.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2014, 08:41:51 PM »
I always read it as "spending more than one's income" (i.e. going into debt to fund their lifestyle) as living above your means.  And naturally LBYM would then mean living on less than your income (and thus saving and/or investing the rest).

I don't even know what the hell the number you just calculated is.  :P
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
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#### Russ

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2014, 08:48:48 PM »
I don't even know what the hell the number you just calculated is.  :P

I think OP's suggesting that your "means" are how much \$\$\$ you have left after saving for retirement at a certain age, not just your income. Hence the example where the person who will have more \$\$\$ than necessary for retirement is therefore living within their means.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2014, 08:55:08 PM »
I don't even know what the hell the number you just calculated is.  :P

I think OP's suggesting that your "means" are how much \$\$\$ you have left after saving for retirement at a certain age, not just your income. Hence the example where the person who will have more \$\$\$ than necessary for retirement is therefore living within their means.

And if I have 500k left according to that number, and I spend 400k that year, I'm living within my means then?  (As long as I decrease back to the spending level that I used to calculate how much of a surplus I had?)

I'm not being snarky, I genuinely don't understand that number or calculation or what it means or what it tells you.  :)
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### centwise

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2014, 08:59:51 PM »
I don't even know what the hell the number you just calculated is.  :P

I think OP's suggesting that your "means" are how much \$\$\$ you have left after saving for retirement at a certain age, not just your income. Hence the example where the person who will have more \$\$\$ than necessary for retirement is therefore living within their means.

Yes! When I hear "living within one's means", (to me) it implies that you are planning wisely for the future. Your spending is modest enough that you are prepared for emergencies (i.e., can replace a leaky roof or a decrepit car) and are saving enough for retirement.

Many people spend everything they earn and think they are living "within their means". But if you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, disaster is always right around the corner.

#### Russ

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2014, 09:14:15 PM »
I don't even know what the hell the number you just calculated is.  :P

I think OP's suggesting that your "means" are how much \$\$\$ you have left after saving for retirement at a certain age, not just your income. Hence the example where the person who will have more \$\$\$ than necessary for retirement is therefore living within their means.

And if I have 500k left according to that number, and I spend 400k that year, I'm living within my means then?  (As long as I decrease back to the spending level that I used to calculate how much of a surplus I had?)
well I think that's pretty contrived, but sure, strictly following OP's example
Quote
I'm not being snarky, I genuinely don't understand that number or calculation or what it means or what it tells you.  :)
it doesn't mean or tell you anything that isn't obvious, so maybe you do get it and you just disagree with it? You don't have to understand or agree with every possible outcome to see its utility in some (IMO the vast majority of) cases. Not that I necessarily agree or disagree with it either.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2014, 11:11:42 PM »
it doesn't mean or tell you anything that isn't obvious, so maybe you do get it and you just disagree with it? You don't have to understand or agree with every possible outcome to see its utility in some (IMO the vast majority of) cases. Not that I necessarily agree or disagree with it either.

No, I don't disagree, I really don't get it.  I don't understand any possible outcome, let alone you claim the vast majority of the cases.  :)

I can't think of a single case where I agree or disagree, I just don't understand.

Let me try to explain how I think I'm understanding it.... If you calculate that your money won't run out... you are LBYM.  Okay.  Now I get lost.  What does the surplus have to do with it?
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### dragoncar

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2014, 11:35:41 PM »
it doesn't mean or tell you anything that isn't obvious, so maybe you do get it and you just disagree with it? You don't have to understand or agree with every possible outcome to see its utility in some (IMO the vast majority of) cases. Not that I necessarily agree or disagree with it either.

No, I don't disagree, I really don't get it.  I don't understand any possible outcome, let alone you claim the vast majority of the cases.  :)

I can't think of a single case where I agree or disagree, I just don't understand.

Let me try to explain how I think I'm understanding it.... If you calculate that your money won't run out... you are LBYM.  Okay.  Now I get lost.  What does the surplus have to do with it?

Math aside, I think the calculation was indeed supposed to show that you are:

a) spending less than you earn (traditionally "living within your means") and
b) saving enough to reasonably fund your retirement (a new definition that I actually like)

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2014, 11:43:07 PM »
Math aside, I think the calculation was indeed supposed to show that you are:

a) spending less than you earn (traditionally "living within your means") and
b) saving enough to reasonably fund your retirement (a new definition that I actually like)

I agree, a LBYM that includes not only not going into debt but funding retirement is a good idea.
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### marty998

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 12:47:40 AM »
Seriously? Isn't it just a figure of speech?

Like teens who eat their parents out of house and home, uncle Bob who spends like a drunken sailor, Aunty Sue who saves the pennies, loses the pounds.

Surely there's not meant to be an equation for literary devices?

#### dragoncar

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 12:50:54 AM »
Seriously? Isn't it just a figure of speech?

Like teens who eat their parents out of house and home, uncle Bob who spends like a drunken sailor, Aunty Sue who saves the pennies, loses the pounds.

Surely there's not meant to be an equation for literary devices?

Some of us can't see the forest for the trees.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 05:37:59 AM »
Seriously? Isn't it just a figure of speech?

Like teens who eat their parents out of house and home, uncle Bob who spends like a drunken sailor, Aunty Sue who saves the pennies, loses the pounds.

Surely there's not meant to be an equation for literary devices?

Some of us can't see the forest for the trees.

Well I mean... how many trees are there?
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### Russ

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 05:42:03 AM »
Let me try to explain how I think I'm understanding it.... If you calculate that your money won't run out... you are LBYM.  Okay.  Now I get lost.  What does the surplus have to do with it?

Why does it have to be more complicated than that? As I understand it, if the surplus is >=0, you are living below your means, and that's all there is to it.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2014, 06:04:12 AM »
Let me try to explain how I think I'm understanding it.... If you calculate that your money won't run out... you are LBYM.  Okay.  Now I get lost.  What does the surplus have to do with it?

Why does it have to be more complicated than that? As I understand it, if the surplus is >=0, you are living below your means, and that's all there is to it.

Hmm.. okay.  So, if I'm understanding it correctly if you are on track to FI (as defined - roughly - by "will have enough to support me for the rest of my life when I retire at future date, based on how much I have now and how much I save each year"), you're LYBM?

I think I get it now.  Essentially it redefines "LBYM" as "spend less than you make and fund your retirement" (adds that second clause).
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### Russ

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2014, 06:12:33 AM »
So, if I'm understanding it correctly if you are on track to FI (as defined - roughly - by "will have enough to support me for the rest of my life when I retire at future date, based on how much I have now and how much I save each year"), you're LYBM?

ha well I don't know if you're understanding it correctly, but you are understanding it the same way I do ;-)

#### aj_yooper

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2014, 06:13:32 AM »
I don't even know what the hell the number you just calculated is.  :P

I think OP's suggesting that your "means" are how much \$\$\$ you have left after saving for retirement at a certain age, not just your income. Hence the example where the person who will have more \$\$\$ than necessary for retirement is therefore living within their means.

Wade Pfau has an interesting article on calculating the sustainable living standard at:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lifecycle-finance-upending-the-old-retirement-rules-2014-02-20

#### rubybeth

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2014, 07:11:56 AM »
Uh, it's just a saying: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/6406/meaning-of-living-within-means

It doesn't have anything to do with financial equations. Living within your means very simply means to live on the money that you make.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2014, 07:15:49 AM »
Uh, it's just a saying: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/6406/meaning-of-living-within-means

It doesn't have anything to do with financial equations. Living within your means very simply means to live on the money that you make.

Yeah, but that's much less fun than trying to quantify it.
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### dragoncar

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2014, 07:17:25 AM »
Uh, it's just a saying: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/6406/meaning-of-living-within-means

It doesn't have anything to do with financial equations. Living within your means very simply means to live on the money that you make.

Sounds like a financial equation to me, albeit a simple one

#### wtjbatman

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2014, 07:36:41 AM »
You numbers people are insane. You must be fun to go out to eat with.

Me- "Here I got the tip, I'll throw down a \$5, that should be enough"
Fellow mustachian I'm eating lunch with- "But that's a 18.91% tip.... based on my calculations, using the total of the bill and how many times she offered to refill my coffee, she's actually due an additional 29 cents."

I do love you guys though.

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2014, 07:44:49 AM »
I do love you guys though.

Yeah, that's meaningless to us unless you quantify it in some way.
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### wtjbatman

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2014, 07:58:48 AM »
I do love you guys though.

Yeah, that's meaningless to us unless you quantify it in some way.

+1

(I'd say Like, but I figured you'd rather have the number)

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2014, 08:05:42 AM »
I do love you guys though.

Yeah, that's meaningless to us unless you quantify it in some way.

+1

(I'd say Like, but I figured you'd rather have the number)

lol.  Well played sir.

I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### rubybeth

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2014, 08:36:58 AM »
Uh, it's just a saying: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/6406/meaning-of-living-within-means

It doesn't have anything to do with financial equations. Living within your means very simply means to live on the money that you make.

Sounds like a financial equation to me, albeit a simple one

There's a financial quotation within that link:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.

(Mr Micawber, in David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens)

#### alm0stk00l

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2014, 08:39:58 AM »
Let me try to explain how I think I'm understanding it.... If you calculate that your money won't run out... you are LBYM.  Okay.  Now I get lost.  What does the surplus have to do with it?

Why does it have to be more complicated than that? As I understand it, if the surplus is >=0, you are living below your means, and that's all there is to it.

Hmm.. okay.  So, if I'm understanding it correctly if you are on track to FI (as defined - roughly - by "will have enough to support me for the rest of my life when I retire at future date, based on how much I have now and how much I save each year"), you're LYBM?

I think I get it now.  Essentially it redefines "LBYM" as "spend less than you make and fund your retirement" (adds that second clause).

This is close to what I was saying.

If you are saving so much that you will have more than enough money to live through retirement, you are living below your means.
If you are saving just enough that you will have just enough to live through retirment, you are living at your means.
If you are not saving enough to live through retirement, you are living above your means.

That was just how I was looking at it; I understand that some people may feel that if you never live off of credit, you are living within your means. But, I do not consider someone saving \$100/month, because they are spending the rest, to be living within their means.

All of this is to say, I like the turn of phrase, and I thought it would be interesting to determine the exact level of your means. For instance, I hear of people here living off 25% of their income, I would assume that is absolutely living below your means. So what percentage of your income, in your opinion, would be considered your means?

I know you cannot determine the exact length of retirement, because you can't be sure how long you will live, so it would just be a rule of thumb, not an exact measurement.

I guess for me, I will just start considering a 17% savings rate as being your means.

Also, you guys are fun.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 08:48:25 AM by alm0stk00l »

#### arebelspy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2014, 08:52:35 AM »
Makes sense.  Thanks for the clarifications, alm0stk00l.

All of this is to say, I like the turn of phrase, and I thought it would be interesting to determine the exact level of your means. For instance, I hear of people here living off 25% of their income, I would assume that is absolutely living below your means. So what percentage of your income, in your opinion, would be considered your means?

That would depend on your current age.  Someone in their 20s could probably be fine saving 10% of salary. Someone in their 50s may need to save 50% of their salary to hit the "will fund FI account in time" level.
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
I (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out the Now page to see what I'm up to currently.

#### dragoncar

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2014, 11:35:16 AM »
You numbers people are insane. You must be fun to go out to eat with.

Me- "Here I got the tip, I'll throw down a \$5, that should be enough"
Fellow mustachian I'm eating lunch with- "But that's a 18.91% tip.... based on my calculations, using the total of the bill and how many times she offered to refill my coffee, she's actually due an additional 29 cents."

I do love you guys though.

Luckily the bill is usually lower because we robots don't need to eat.  Just a bit of oil here and there.

#### aj_yooper

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2014, 11:50:03 AM »
Let me try to explain how I think I'm understanding it.... If you calculate that your money won't run out... you are LBYM.  Okay.  Now I get lost.  What does the surplus have to do with it?

Why does it have to be more complicated than that? As I understand it, if the surplus is >=0, you are living below your means, and that's all there is to it.

Hmm.. okay.  So, if I'm understanding it correctly if you are on track to FI (as defined - roughly - by "will have enough to support me for the rest of my life when I retire at future date, based on how much I have now and how much I save each year"), you're LYBM?

I think I get it now.  Essentially it redefines "LBYM" as "spend less than you make and fund your retirement" (adds that second clause).

This is close to what I was saying.

If you are saving so much that you will have more than enough money to live through retirement, you are living below your means.
If you are saving just enough that you will have just enough to live through retirment, you are living at your means.
If you are not saving enough to live through retirement, you are living above your means.

That was just how I was looking at it; I understand that some people may feel that if you never live off of credit, you are living within your means. But, I do not consider someone saving \$100/month, because they are spending the rest, to be living within their means.

All of this is to say, I like the turn of phrase, and I thought it would be interesting to determine the exact level of your means. For instance, I hear of people here living off 25% of their income, I would assume that is absolutely living below your means. So what percentage of your income, in your opinion, would be considered your means?

I know you cannot determine the exact length of retirement, because you can't be sure how long you will live, so it would just be a rule of thumb, not an exact measurement.

I guess for me, I will just start considering a 17% savings rate as being your means.

Also, you guys are fun.

By the way, the Pfau link gives a math view of the question.  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lifecycle-finance-upending-the-old-retirement-rules-2014-02-20

#### lexie2000

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2014, 12:23:34 PM »
I don't think it has to be so complex.  Living below your means = spending less than your income.  How much you live below your means and what that extra money will be earmarked for (EF, retirement, etc.) will be as varied as there are people who do it.

#### wtjbatman

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2014, 12:43:45 PM »
You numbers people are insane. You must be fun to go out to eat with.

Me- "Here I got the tip, I'll throw down a \$5, that should be enough"
Fellow mustachian I'm eating lunch with- "But that's a 18.91% tip.... based on my calculations, using the total of the bill and how many times she offered to refill my coffee, she's actually due an additional 29 cents."

I do love you guys though.

Luckily the bill is usually lower because we robots don't need to eat.  Just a bit of oil here and there.

Nice.

#### nereo

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #31 on: March 06, 2014, 01:06:14 PM »
Separate but related question:  What are your ways?
(as in - 'ways and means')

if you are living beyond your means would you also be living outside your ways? no way?

#### SwordGuy

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2014, 07:37:32 PM »
I think it's a good idea.  (The original math as posted was wonky, but that's fixable.)

It would be a great idea to redefine living within one's means to include saving for emergencies and retirement.

#### Tennis Maniac

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##### Re: What are your means?
« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2014, 10:53:25 PM »
I don't think it has to be so complex.  Living below your means = spending less than your income.  How much you live below your means and what that extra money will be earmarked for (EF, retirement, etc.) will be as varied as there are people who do it.

+1

While I like including some reference to funding retirement, doesn't my "means" include my salary and the maximum I could work at that salary level if I had to?  why only age 62?  How FAR below my means I live likely indicates the age at which I will be FI.  Now that I am saying this, it seems that the OP is basically reverse engineering FI calculations based on a standard social norm (retire at 62).  Fun with numbers.