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FIRE'd Aunt at 53

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By Telegraph
June 7, 2002

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While I am NOT passing judgment on HER, per se, I am wondering if what they gave up was not too high a price for FIRE at age 53. Uncle is dead, I assume in his late 40's, from what I can tell. Would HE have been better off to have lived a little during his short life? And they have no kids. So here you have FIRED Auntie at age 53...widowed, no kids but financial security and I assume the traditional house full of cats. Wouldn't she have been better off with, by this age, a few grown kids and perhaps some grandkids to dote on in her future, even if it meant having to work 12 more years and live "merely" off of a Social Security check and a much smaller pot?

This whole FIRE [Financially Independent, Retire Early] thing can get out of hand. It's a noble goal, but for many, especially those who don't earn much, the price can be just too high, in my humble opinion.

I think you missed several significant points in the original post.

1) Their income was near 100K together; you can live comfortably on 1/3rd of that. Too many get in the habit of living at or above their means (going into debt). That seems to be the 'American way' - spend now, pay later.

He died of cancer, which can strike at any age. Have a friend now suffering from cancer at age 46; she smoked too much, now she is paying the piper. There are no guarantees in life, but the insurance company will gamble that you WILL live most likely to retirement, so you need to prepare yourself. There are lots who 'live for today', figuring that retirement is 'so far off' they don't need to save, and as we all know, starting to save at a younger age has much more impact on your ability to RE [Retire Early], and the age at which you will RE..

2) They lived in a 300K house...hardly the miser's shack without electricity or indoor plumbing. They took one big trip per year, likely most of the vacation time they got anyway. She now lives in a 100K condo.

3) The decision to have/have not kids was either a lifestyle choice or they weren't able to have kids. You assume too much by your characterization that everyone needs 'kids' to dote on...yes, many parents enjoy their kids/grandkids...some don't, either.

4) Driving a 12-13 year old Honda, if you putt around town, is perfectly fine. My 12 year old 1990 Honda still does fine, thank you, at 155, 000 miles. You don't need to catch 'new car fever' to have reliable transportation. I can buy a new car every 8 years, put 100K miles on it, and be perfectly happy. Some other LBYM types would buy a used car. My mom's 1994 Buick LeSabre , which I inherited at 105K miles 3 years ago, got driven to 201K miles before I decided to part with it. Still ran nice, and great around town for errands. Great road car, too. It got replaced. It went through 47 states. Now, did people really care that I had well over 100,000 miles on it as I went cruising down the road?

I think some folks equate 'consumerism' as living well. Having all the latest gadgets, latest computer hardware, DSL service, big screen TV(s), DVD recorders, fancy sports equipment (seldom used), big power boat/jet skis, winter skiing equipment, expensive golf clubs, latest fashions, 'brand name' shoes, shirts, shorts, underwear, accessories, etc.

Some folks equate 'status' with 'where they took their last vacation - this McResort in this location, or that one, and how much money they spent on getting their family there. The more 'exotic', the better, even if the kids spent the entire time playing Nintendo or lolling by the pool, while Papa spent $1000-1500 a day to fly them to the McResort for their 'week' vacation away from their normal life of the country club (and swimming pool and activities.) Or, a week ski vacation for the family that comes in at $5,000. Oh yes, I guess every American family is deprived if Papa can't take them to Aspen for their 'winter vacation'? Or let the kids spend 10 weeks in Europe over the summer 'soaking up the culture'?

I beg to differ. I was a lot happier paying off the house, never having a car loan (after the first initial two), never being in debt, having a year or two worth of living expenses set aside. I didn't get the urge to spend $2000 or more a week at a McResort just to say I went there, did that. Yes, I took vacations, and had a fun time, but I didn't blow bucks just for the heck of it, or because 'everyone else' was doing it.

Do you really think the folks, with 2 or 3 kids, 3 or 4 expensive fancy cars, either leased or with at least $30-50K loans on them, a $200,000 mortgage, a house full of crap they really don't need, and mostly don't use after the first week, designer label clothes, who are busy keeping up with the Jones', are really "living" better than someone who is smart enough to live within or below their means?

It is absolutely amazing to go to a garage sale, and see literally tons of 'stuff' that people bought new, and within a few months or years, there is $10,000 worth of 'stuff' given away for pennies on the dollar... that isn't my idea of 'living well', just consumerism at work.

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