39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

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39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:05 am

Hi all, first post. I knew about this forum and have poked around some of the threads in the past but never really felt the need to post. I wanted to post tonight simply to share my experience with the Bogle investment philosophy and serve as a datapoint for anyone perusing the boards and wondering if this stuff actually works and has merit.

It does!

As the title indicates, I'm 39. My wife just turned 40. I began actively saving for retirement at 22, right out of college as a newly minted engineer. I put together a spreadsheet and estimated my net worth 10, 20, 40 years in the future with constant savings and a reasonable return while I was considering how much to save in my 401k. It was all the impetus I needed to find ways to cut my cost of living during my 20s and hit the Index funds as hard as I could. Through a stroke of luck, I happened to meet a nice girl in my 20s (accountant) that was doing the same thing as me. She's the one that just turned 40.

We've stayed disciplined in our investment strategy since we were both 22, maxing out our 401k accounts, taking the full company matches, stuffing money into Vanguard's funds, and living below our salaries...whatever those have happened to be. It wasn't much to look at by age 30. And the market meltdown after 2001 didn't help. But we stuck with it anyway. Same in 2007 and the financial implosion. Stuck with it. I'm sure there's another pile of garbage down the road at some point that will once again test our mettle, but we'll stick with it.

By age 35 things started to pick up a little inertia. And each year since has been gaining more and more steam.

Tonight our Voyager Select welcome kit showed up (yay! milestone!) but, in truth, our collective portfolio is a nice bit healthier since we have other accounts through other companies as a result of other retirement plans.

While our salaries have been nice, I don't think we'd be were we are if we hadn't kept our heads on spending for the last 18 years. We've each been downsized once and, though stressful, it was never panic button inducing. Again, a credit to a simple philosophy...live below your means and invest the difference in plain jane, low cost funds. Granted, things can always change and who knows what tomorrow will bring.

But to anyone wondering if such a SIMPLE recipe works, let me tell you that it does. Big time. Just takes some patience, some discipline, and a willingness to let your money grow slow and steady without a lot of flash. And yes, starting in your 20s makes a BIG difference.

Thanks for letting me celebrate just a little bit on here. It feels good to be vindicated after listening to other people chuckle at the idealistic 20 something that thought he was going to pass certain milestones before he was 40 just by living a little cheap and investing early!
Last edited by investingdad on Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Cash » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:49 pm

Congrats! Keep up the good work :)
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby grabiner » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:39 pm

Welcome to the forum, and congratulations on your good saving habits! Making Voyager Select ($500K at Vanguard) at your age, plus other investments in your retirement plans, puts you well on your way to a secure retirement, or to spend money on other things before retirement; if you want to buy a home or pay for your children's college education, you have the money for it.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby RenoJay » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:49 pm

I love hearing stories like yours. My parents made a choice 30+ years ago to always live on my Dad's salary and bank my Mom's. They retired with a tidy sum. Though I sometimes felt deprived as a kid (how come WE don't order appetizers when we go out??) I learned great saving habits by example. Keep up the good work and spread the gospel.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:29 pm

Thanks, appreciate it.

We've certainly been very fortunate along the way, no question. But I do think that some bumps can be smoothed out if you plan for them while the road is free and clear. My wife was always onboard with the approach. That made a big difference.

I still have the spreadsheet file I created when I was 22 though I don't really used it anymore. What's remarkeable is how close we tracked to it despite marriage, house, kids, etc. Really just a few simple assumptions powered by compounding.

At then end of the day, my goal really just comes down to making sure I sleep well at night and can continue to do so.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby letsgobobby » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:48 am

Nice story, thanks for sharing. I opened my first IRA as a teenager, thanks to my dad. Converted to a Roth, essentially tax free, in 1996, at age 22 because I had no income. That Roth alone is now worth approaching $250k... compounding totally matters!
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby linenfort » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:22 pm

Great story, great first post.
My favorite part:
investingdad wrote:And the market meltdown after 2001 didn't help. But we stuck with it anyway. Same in 2007 and the financial implosion. Stuck with it. I'm sure there's another pile of [stuff --admin LadyGeek] down the road at some point that will once again test our mettle, but we'll stick with it.


Lots of (understandable) panicking was going on at this forum in 2008, but it's relegated to a mere footnote in your history because you had the good sense to stay the course.
This is how it's supposed to be done.
Bravo!
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Sam I Am » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:34 pm

investingdad wrote:Hi all, first post. I knew about this forum and have poked around some of the threads in the past but never really felt the need to post. I wanted to post tonight simply to share my experience with the Bogle investment philosophy and serve as a datapoint for anyone perusing the boards and wondering if this stuff actually works and has merit.

It does!

As the title indicates, I'm 39. My wife just turned 40. I began actively saving for retirement at 22, right out of college as a newly minted engineer. I put together a spreadsheet and estimated my net worth 10, 20, 40 years in the future with constant savings and a reasonable return while I was considering how much to save in my 401k. It was all the impetus I needed to find ways to cut my cost of living during my 20s and hit the Index funds as hard as I could. Through a stroke of luck, I happened to meet a nice girl in my 20s (accountant) that was doing the same thing as me. She's the one that just turned 40.

We've stayed disciplined in our investment strategy since we were both 22, maxing out our 401k accounts, taking the full company matches, stuffing money into Vanguard's funds, and living below our salaries...whatever those have happened to be. It wasn't much to look at by age 30. And the market meltdown after 2001 didn't help. But we stuck with it anyway. Same in 2007 and the financial implosion. Stuck with it. I'm sure there's another pile of [stuff --admin LadyGeek] down the road at some point that will once again test our mettle, but we'll stick with it.

By age 35 things started to pick up a little inertia. And each year since has been gaining more and more steam.

Tonight our Voyager Select welcome kit showed up (yay! milestone!) but, in truth, our collective portfolio is a nice bit healthier since we have other accounts through other companies as a result of other retirement plans.

While our salaries have been nice, I don't think we'd be were we are if we hadn't kept our heads on spending for the last 18 years. We've each been downsized once and, though stressful, it was never panic button inducing. Again, a credit to a simple philosophy...live below your means and invest the difference in plain jane, low cost funds. Granted, things can always change and who knows what tomorrow will bring.

But to anyone wondering if such a SIMPLE recipe works, let me tell you that it does. Big time. Just takes some patience, some discipline, and a willingness to let your money grow slow and steady without a lot of flash. And yes, starting in your 20s makes a BIG difference.

Thanks for letting me celebrate just a little bit on here. It feels good to be vindicated after listening to other people chuckle at the idealistic 20 something that thought he was going to pass certain milestones before he was 40 just by living a little cheap and investing early!


Wonderful story! Congrats!

I'm curious about your very mature approach to the issue; what was your reason/influence? Were you influenced by your parents, observation of others, etc?

And, you are so fortunate your wife is such great partner in this effort. A husband or wife pulling the same direction sure makes the pulling a lot easier.

Again, great job, and thanks for sharing! I only wish I had been so disciplined at such an early age. :oops:

You and your wife got a several-year head start on many of us, for sure.

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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:42 pm

I don't know if there was one reason or influence in particular. I think part of it was my non-immediate family (uncles, cousins, etc) and the people I associated with in high school. The family I mention were always blowing money on cars, going to races, hunting and fishing gear, and used to talk about how "you can't get ahead". They all lacked anything beyond a high school diploma. I realized I didn't share their defeatist attitude and I was very focused on NOT taking their paths in life...fretting about money, complaining about whatever job they had, and going directionless.

The people I associated with in high school came from familes that were like those family members. And again, I knew I wanted to do a lot better for myself.

As bad as it sounds, my motivation was largely driven early on by trying to do the opposite of people I had known and grown up around. Not to say that they weren't / aren't good people, I just didn't like the idea of me being them in 30 years and wondering what I had done wrong. I knew I was a smart kid and probably had the ability to do more than just wind up working some [lousy --admin LadyGeek] job somewhere. THAT credit goes to my dad who pushed me in schoolwork and made sure I went to college, my mom as well.

I think the second big motivation was a summer job I had before college. I was washing dishes in an industrial kitchen of a nursing home. At some point during the summer when I was up to my elbows in disgusting dishes and burning hot water, I had an epiphany. THIS was MY future if I blew it in college. I carried THAT motivation for the next four years. Tired of studying for an exam or doing 6 hours of homework? Remember that [lousy --admin LadyGeek] job? Ok, good point, back to studying.

I think I continued that mindset once I was out of college. I was on the right path to NOT being where I didn't want to end up, but I needed to do more. Investing was the more and the way to leverage my money. Again, credit to my dad who pushed me to put my college graduation money (about $1500) into mutual funds. I still have that money since I never needed to spend it. When I saw it increase in value, I felt like I may have found the magic bullet.

After that, it was just a matter of shoveling the extra cash into mutual funds.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby matjen » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:59 pm

Congratulations on the milestone! Keep up the good work and the money will keep working for you. :sharebeer
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Normchad » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:21 pm

Wow! You are telling my exact story.

I'm a 43 year old engineer with a great wife who is better with money than I am.

Through my life, I've also been motivated more by "what I didn't want", than anything else. I worked some tough jobs at a forklift dealer, and yes, industrial scale dish washer. I always thought "8 bucks an hour is great in high school, but these other guys who are 40+, I don't want to be them, still getting 8 bucks an hour"

The funny thing is, my whole life, I've been terrible at saving money. I have near zero self control. When I got my first job post college, I signed up for the 401K, put away 15%, and never looked back. The automatic ness of it is what made the difference for me. Never touched it, never made changes, nothing. And 22 years later, despite spectacular bubble popping, I'm so far ahead of where I ever thought I'd be. Lesson: when everybody says "it's different this time"', it isn't.

So yeah, it definitely works. And thanks to everyone on this board for being so great, and relentlessly reinforcing these ideas. This is the classiest, most civil, board on the Internet, IMO.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Sam I Am » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:26 pm

Message deleted.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Calm Man » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:02 pm

I admire OP and how rather than needing to find role models to follow, he discovered what I have always called NEGATIVE role models (this term is used by me only with myself-- I never before shared this term or even philsophy as people would think I'm nuts). Growing up in a lower middle class blue collar development in Queens NY, I saw exactly what I did not want to be. And I have fortunately continued to find negative role models for all sorts of things over the years. The best negative models are the ones who criticize you for any number of things and if you reflect unemotionally you realize it is because in their heart they know they are "wrong" and need to defend their ways but attacking yours. I have always thanked them for the input (and of course ignored them).
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Juniormint » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:05 pm

Awesome. I hope to be able to say that when I get up there. I started investing when I was 22 as well. I'm 24 now and just chugging along. :beer
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Helloeeze » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:03 am

Consider yourself blessed that you make enough money to save for retirement and only have to forego appetizers when you go out to dinner to reach your goal. Most of the citizens of this country do not have that opportunity, under those circumstances. They have no matching 401 (k), no surplus income, no "banking" the wife's salary. Feel blessed you are privileged and smart enough to be in that position. Do you all realize how fortunate you all are? For sure you are smart, too. Not everyone is so blessed.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby jda » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:55 am

Helloeeze wrote:Consider yourself blessed that you make enough money to save for retirement and only have to forego appetizers when you go out to dinner to reach your goal. Most of the citizens of this country do not have that opportunity, under those circumstances. They have no matching 401 (k), no surplus income, no "banking" the wife's salary. Feel blessed you are privileged and smart enough to be in that position. Do you all realize how fortunate you all are? For sure you are smart, too. Not everyone is so blessed.


It was while he was a kid that his parents forego appetizers. Also, are you jelly?

OP congratulations and thanks for the inspiring story!
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:32 am

Helloeeze wrote:Consider yourself blessed that you make enough money to save for retirement and only have to forego appetizers when you go out to dinner to reach your goal. Most of the citizens of this country do not have that opportunity, under those circumstances. They have no matching 401 (k), no surplus income, no "banking" the wife's salary. Feel blessed you are privileged and smart enough to be in that position. Do you all realize how fortunate you all are? For sure you are smart, too. Not everyone is so blessed.

No question. We have been very fortunate and I often feel like it's not deserved.

Getting to where we are started when I was living by myself making very little. I still worked to spend less than what I made regardless of what I made. And I was always keeping one eye on the future. I think those are basic principles and important to smoothing out the road just a little.

But sure, blessed and fortunate thus far. No question.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:36 am

Calm Man wrote:I admire OP and how rather than needing to find role models to follow, he discovered what I have always called NEGATIVE role models (this term is used by me only with myself-- I never before shared this term or even philsophy as people would think I'm nuts). Growing up in a lower middle class blue collar development in Queens NY, I saw exactly what I did not want to be. And I have fortunately continued to find negative role models for all sorts of things over the years. The best negative models are the ones who criticize you for any number of things and if you reflect unemotionally you realize it is because in their heart they know they are "wrong" and need to defend their ways but attacking yours. I have always thanked them for the input (and of course ignored them).


Perhaps "anti role model" would be the better descriptor?
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby nepats » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:31 am

Congrats! Great story. I agree that saving as early as 20s helps a lot. I wish you all the best in the future.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Jay69 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:28 am

Concrats and a great story.

I have noticed somthing from this board, I think many of people here are engineers and or work in an engieering field such as yourself thus make good Bogleheads.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:55 am

I think there's an element of truth to engineers having certain characteristics that lend themselves to certain investment styles. Engineering in general seeks to minimize risk, trusts the numbers as long as the calculations are correct, and considers contigencies for addressing inevitable, unplanned problems. This is a little simplistic, but it hits on major themes of good engineering practice.

I have had people that work in financial planning tell me that they hate engineers because they're too difficult to work with and think they can do stuff themselves. Maybe it's just because financial planners thrive on customers that don't ask a lot of questions or don't enjoy running numbers and spreadsheeting.

Well, if the numbers work and all it takes is discipline...why can't I do this myself? Just plug and chug. I don't need to have uber wealth to be happy. I'm happy now. Having some financial resources just makes it a little more relaxing.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby nepats » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:18 pm

Engineers FTW :D
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby BigOil » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:36 pm

OK another Engineer and Accountant here :happy

Lucky too in many ways. But some bad luck along the way as well (jobs lost, reorgs, moves unwanted), etc... Both around 50ish 25+ years of "Vanguarding". It works. Well. :wink:

I too had some "negative role models" to anchor our thinking. Among them, Cousins in living in trailers, and driving nice payment based trucks, for example! (WTF is that?)

Silly saying but true "get Lemons...make Lemonade", and keep cooking! Luck is certainly part of it, but not nearly all of it!

One thing that helped me-AMEN, AMEN AMEN!!:
"I think the second big motivation was a summer job I had before college. I was washing dishes in an industrial kitchen of a nursing home. At some point during the summer when I was up to my elbows in disgusting dishes and burning hot water, I had an epiphany. THIS was MY future if I blew it in college. I carried THAT motivation for the next four years. Tired of studying for an exam or doing 6 hours of homework? Remember that [lousy --admin LadyGeek] job? Ok, good point, back to studying."

For me, that motivation was from a "Burger Chef" job in the same naaasty dishwater(!) plus a hot grease slippery mess cleaning the fry machine, or grill (most dangerous in hindsight for a 16yo!). My Son just had a minimum wage job in an Amusement Park; for other Park Employees-- many in fact (not Management) the job was big part of their ongoing employment plan-- not just Summer help. His eyes were OPENED, as he had had an "Upper Middle Class" life... I recommend a truly [lousy --admin LadyGeek] part-time or summer job for most (middle class) teenagers.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby bigred77 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:29 pm

Awsome post... You are my role model and what I strive to become...

I wish more poeple on here would do "milestone posts" when they reach 30, 35, 40 yrs old or 500k, 1000k in investable assets. (Iknow I see some but I know there are many more who don't share).

Would love to see more stats (what's your portfolio look like, how have your contributions looked over time, any windfalls, % of income saved, etc).

Thanks for sharing...
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:23 pm

Well, I started at zero and my contributions were not much to look at. My first engineering job paid me around 33K a year. I was struggling to put 10% a year into my 401k, about $275 a month. But, I put together a spreadsheet. I assumed that if I got a 3% raise a year and put 10% into my account and got 9% a year return (that was pretty optimistic but it was 1996) then by the time I was 64 I'd have $2 million in the bank.

It was pretty simple math. It was looked like an uphill fight until 40 or so when the numbers started to accumulate. But it made sense and I figured it was a good idea. So that was the start. From there it was a waiting game and just making the contributions.

Fortunately I've been able to manage my career such that I've done better than 3% a year. That allowed me to eventually up my contributions to the Federal max. I'd guess by age 30 I was hitting the limit. What I didn't count on was the company matches. I just assumed it was my money and nothing else. So, company matches helped the cause.

The other big help was marrying a girl that shared the same philosophy as me. Her salary has always mirrored my own, that didn't exactly hurt either. So now, going back to my spreadsheet, it was fair to double the numbers. By the time WE were 64, $4 million in the bank. Now of course there's some egg counting here and we all know the story about chickens that never hatched. Ok, fair enough. But it's just math and no outrageous assumptions. It's not like I assumed a 15% return.

But then I discovered something else in my spreadsheet.

What if I stopped ALL investing by the time I was 40? Only $1.5 million in the bank. Not as good but, still, pretty good. THEN I pretended there was some guy that STARTED investing at age 40, right when I stopped. How much would he have to contribute to have $1.5 million by 64? Almost $17,500 a year! Holy [Mackerel --admin LadyGeek]! A little more math and I realized that up to age 40, I would have only invested a total of $82000 or so. And this hypothetical guy would be shoving $17500 into retirement EVERY year for the next 24 years to catch up to me.

But what if I didn't stop investing at age 40? Then the hypothetical guy would need to invest $24000 a year to catch up with me!

Holy (bleep)!

Right, so that was exactly the exercise I did when I was 22. That got me started.

No windfalls for either me or my wife. At one time we were investing 35% of our gross. After having two kids, that has come down. Right now we invest around 27% of our gross.

Milestones? I'd say we started reaching notable ones after we turned 30. By 35, they were coming a little quicker, and they were bigger. Now that we're cresting 40 (yikes, it's all hypothetical when you're just 22 and then...there you are) I would say we're punching through much bigger milestones and a lot faster, if you get my drift. :wink: Downturns aren't fun but the upticks are just as big on the back end.

I'm hardly a role model. I just followed a simple plan, married somebody that looked at things the same way, and have been pretty fortunate that we haven't had any major curveballs thrown at us. [Stuff --admin LadyGeek] could hit the fan tomorrow. We've tried to allow for that by not doing anything financially stupid along the way.

------
And when my kids are old enough, they will be required to take a part time job. Preferably one that [stinks --admin LadyGeek], like mine did. Even better if it's right before they start college. Some first hand experience doing something they loathe is a much needed eye opener. Don't like doing this job? Yeah, I don't blame you. But somebody has to do it. If you think you'd rather it not be you, I will encourage you to think about doing this type of job for the rest of your life at the times when you're torn between blowing off class or not preparing for an exam.

My 7 year old has already started asking questions like, "If some jobs don't pay a lot of money or they're yucky, why do people do them?"

She and her little brother, when they get older, will be sorely in need of having their eyes opened to the realities around them.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby LadyGeek » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:45 pm

I don't want to dampen the enthusiasm here, but please keep the language family-friendly.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Scott S » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:48 pm

Another engineer here. Congrats on sticking to your plan, OP. :sharebeer

I have to admit that it's probably my brain wiring that made compound interest so appealing back when I was little. That, coupled with an inherent laziness that drives a desire to be retired (or at least FI) as early as possible, made me want to start investing as soon as I could. ;)
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby ofcmetz » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:22 pm

FTW, I'm not an engineer. ;)

Thanks for sharing the story OP. It is very encouraging to hear a success story. Congrats on reaping the benefits of your own wise decisions.

I think I learned a ton having to work part time to pay for things as a teenager and young adult. I too will push my kids in that direction regardless of my wealth at the time. I started accruing credit in a state pension at age 19, but didn't start saving until 25. (I constantly try to motivate the young cops I work with, but that is an uphill battle). It's impossible to overstate the importance of starting young whenever possible.
Showing up at the donut shop at 5 am to get them hot out of the oil is an example of successful market timing.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:30 pm

Scott S wrote:Another engineer here. Congrats on sticking to your plan, OP. :sharebeer

I have to admit that it's probably my brain wiring that made compound interest so appealing back when I was little. That, coupled with an inherent laziness that drives a desire to be retired (or at least FI) as early as possible, made me want to start investing as soon as I could. ;)


You know, it's not so much that I *want* to retire early...I just want to have the FREEDOM to retire early if I so choose. Or discuss with my employer the possibility of working part time or on a consulting basis. Who knows? I just want to have the option to say, while in my late 50s (or sooner!), "you know, this is great but I think I'd like to bag it and go do something else because I can."
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby menlo » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:30 pm

Wow, a really inspiring story! I'm always impressed by stories of people like you who were able to go against the grain of family/acquaintances in making financially sound life decisions. It's so much easier to do the right thing when your family/friends are on the same page and pointing you in the right direction. It's much, much tougher when you have only the courage of your own convictions.

Congratulations on your great success so far.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby enderland » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:35 pm

investingdad wrote:You know, it's not so much that I *want* to retire early...I just want to have the FREEDOM to retire early if I so choose. Or discuss with my employer the possibility of working part time or on a consulting basis. Who knows? I just want to have the option to say, while in my late 50s (or sooner!), "you know, this is great but I think I'd like to bag it and go do something else because I can."


As someone just starting a career myself (24), this is one of the main reasons I am motivated to invest/save.

I want to be able to have whatever career I want in my lifetime. If my more than sufficiently well paying engineering career doesn't work out, I don't want to be like so many coworkers who seem to be trapped into their job by the $$$$ - if I save well for retirement I can afford myself the flexibility to do whatever I want (well before retirement age even).
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby JAIrwin » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:48 am

Thanks so much for sharing your story! Very inspirational to hear about it from someone who has been through a couple downturns. I also started saving at age 22 fresh out of college as an engineer as well.

I'm curious - what does your portfolio consist of? Is it the 3-4 index funds that are often discussed at Bogleheads?
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby EternalOptimist » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:23 am

Great stories, briefly here's mine. Am 63, retired from the corporate world 2 years ago. Though pretty frugal, didn't really get into the investment game until about 20 years ago. Was dealing with life's stages--bought a house/paid the mortgage, put my daughter through private college, went into my own business, then sold it to go back to the corporate world, got laid off (multiple times), freelanced for a while then finally quit it all.

Some things I think I did right was to save what I could with 401k matching, lived below my means and made some good investments. It is amazing how quickly things add up if you put one foot in front of the other--even with a relatively late start. Good luck and STAY THE COURSE, YOU WILL GET THERE :!:
"When nothing goes right....go left"
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby investingdad » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:14 am

JAIrwin wrote:Thanks so much for sharing your story! Very inspirational to hear about it from someone who has been through a couple downturns. I also started saving at age 22 fresh out of college as an engineer as well.

I'm curious - what does your portfolio consist of? Is it the 3-4 index funds that are often discussed at Bogleheads?


No, I'm guilty of having a medley of mutual funds with Vanguard. Index funds and a few others. Maybe that should be pared down but for now, I'm simply focused on gradually rebalance to a stronger bond position.

We have other money with another fund company as a result of our retirement plans. Similar types of holdings.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby mikefixac » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:37 pm

Love this. Inspirational.

I was the opposite. Luckily, 40 years ago I got a Sears and JC Penny charge card with a $300 limit. I maxed out both and didn't pay them. So of course I had bad credit and couldn't get a loan. Turned out a blessing for me.

Had to pay cash for real estate and bought cheap. One house, then another and another.

I got lucky. I wish I knew the power of compounding like you've experienced, but at least now I got it invested in Vanguard accts and definitely live below my means.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby xram » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:04 pm

RenoJay wrote:I love hearing stories like yours. My parents made a choice 30+ years ago to always live on my Dad's salary and bank my Mom's. They retired with a tidy sum. Though I sometimes felt deprived as a kid (how come WE don't order appetizers when we go out??) I learned great saving habits by example. Keep up the good work and spread the gospel.


we do the same thing when out to eat.
no appetizers. sometimes no soda, just water
sometimes soda. no big deal
our experience as a family is no less enjoyable because we dont have 11 dollar greasy potato skins in front of us
and if we go out for mexican, salsa and chips are usually free ...... :happy
we rarely order food for our 3 and 4 year olds. they usually just get a little bit of me, my wife's, and our teenager's plate.
for desert, we often go to this "spanish" bakery where AWESOME desert cookies (home-made) are like 60 cents. it real. we are usually the only non-spanish/mexican type folks in there. i tell the guy to charge more....lol
im really trying to teach my kids these lessons.
my teenager makes good decisions when she has to use her own money to buy something...."oh nevermind" she says///lol
if she asks for something fairly expensive, i ask her to figure out how many days a person making maybe 20 bucks an hour would have to work to go buy whatever she is asking about, and she always forgets to figure in taxes....lol

congratulations to the OP
great job
you should feel good.....
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby SpecialK22 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:30 pm

Congrats!

Speaking of anti-role models, there's a poster for that:

Image
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Ed 2 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:49 pm

investingdad wrote:Thanks, appreciate it.

We've certainly been very fortunate along the way, no question. But I do think that some bumps can be smoothed out if you plan for them while the road is free and clear. My wife was always onboard with the approach. That made a big difference.

I still have the spreadsheet file I created when I was 22 though I don't really used it anymore. What's remarkeable is how close we tracked to it despite marriage, house, kids, etc. Really just a few simple assumptions powered by compounding.

At then end of the day, my goal really just comes down to making sure I sleep well at night and can continue to do so.

You were not fortunate, you were smart and not willing depend on someone.
Congrats,Ed.
"The fund industry doesn't have a lot of heroes, but he (Bogle) is one of them," Russ Kinnel
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby Van-Guard23 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:14 pm

Congratulations! Your post mirrors what my wife and I went/are going thru. We are both U.S. Army officers and for years maxed contributions to TSP and also to our Roth IRAs thru Vanguard (VTSAX, VFIAX, VDIGX) and others...we started investing early in our careers and kept at it, looking at market downturns as opportunities that they are. We lived well within our means (occasionally splurging on expensive meals for special events/milestones - oh yeah, water with lemon wedges are great and cheaper than sodas or any alcoholic beverage). Bought and kept vehicles for a long time (I still have my 4Runner I bought 16 years ago). Learned from mistakes along the way...and proud to report that after 20+ years in the Army in faithful service to our nation and the American way of life, I am ready to retire at age 44 and start the next phase of my life financially secure with a 7-figure portfolio augmented by a generous pension (my wife still wants to stay in the Army so our retirements from the Army would be staggered - read that this could be beneficial down the road).
Congratulations again and thanks for sharing!
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby nepats » Fri May 03, 2013 9:23 am

Van-Guard23 wrote:Congratulations! Your post mirrors what my wife and I went/are going thru. We are both U.S. Army officers and for years maxed contributions to TSP and also to our Roth IRAs thru Vanguard (VTSAX, VFIAX, VDIGX) and others...we started investing early in our careers and kept at it, looking at market downturns as opportunities that they are. We lived well within our means (occasionally splurging on expensive meals for special events/milestones - oh yeah, water with lemon wedges are great and cheaper than sodas or any alcoholic beverage). Bought and kept vehicles for a long time (I still have my 4Runner I bought 16 years ago). Learned from mistakes along the way...and proud to report that after 20+ years in the Army in faithful service to our nation and the American way of life, I am ready to retire at age 44 and start the next phase of my life financially secure with a 7-figure portfolio augmented by a generous pension (my wife still wants to stay in the Army so our retirements from the Army would be staggered - read that this could be beneficial down the road).
Congratulations again and thanks for sharing!


This is a great story that shows you that you can have a fulfilling career, do good for the country, and it doesn't take Million dollar a year in earnings to be financially independent. Thank you for your service.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby BW1985 » Fri May 03, 2013 10:37 am

Van-Guard23 wrote:Congratulations! Your post mirrors what my wife and I went/are going thru. We are both U.S. Army officers and for years maxed contributions to TSP and also to our Roth IRAs thru Vanguard (VTSAX, VFIAX, VDIGX) and others...we started investing early in our careers and kept at it, looking at market downturns as opportunities that they are. We lived well within our means (occasionally splurging on expensive meals for special events/milestones - oh yeah, water with lemon wedges are great and cheaper than sodas or any alcoholic beverage). Bought and kept vehicles for a long time (I still have my 4Runner I bought 16 years ago). Learned from mistakes along the way...and proud to report that after 20+ years in the Army in faithful service to our nation and the American way of life, I am ready to retire at age 44 and start the next phase of my life financially secure with a 7-figure portfolio augmented by a generous pension (my wife still wants to stay in the Army so our retirements from the Army would be staggered - read that this could be beneficial down the road).
Congratulations again and thanks for sharing!


Very impressive, 44 w/ 7 figures.
"I'd recommend going for happiness and fulfillment over money. Money is easy, and wealthy people spend all their money chasing happiness and fulfillment" -longview
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby fatlever » Fri May 03, 2013 5:26 pm

investingdad wrote:THEN I pretended there was some guy that STARTED investing at age 40, right when I stopped. How much would he have to contribute to have $1.5 million by 64? Almost $17,500 a year! Holy [Mackerel --admin LadyGeek]! A little more math and I realized that up to age 40, I would have only invested a total of $82000 or so. And this hypothetical guy would be shoving $17500 into retirement EVERY year for the next 24 years to catch up to me.

But what if I didn't stop investing at age 40? Then the hypothetical guy would need to invest $24000 a year to catch up with me!


I am that hypothetical guy? :oops:

Well I am going to be 40 this year started off in 2010. Had no savings or financial and investment plans until I stumbled on here. Been contributing around 20K since then. Going to be tough because although I am going to be 40, stay at home wife and I plan on having kids soon.

I wish I knew all this in my 20s. But I feel like I am in better position than that hypothetical guy who stumbles on this when he's 60! :mrgreen:
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby yukon50 » Sat May 04, 2013 1:22 am

Van-Guard23 wrote:Congratulations! Your post mirrors what my wife and I went/are going thru. We are both U.S. Army officers and for years maxed contributions to TSP and also to our Roth IRAs thru Vanguard (VTSAX, VFIAX, VDIGX) and others...we started investing early in our careers and kept at it, looking at market downturns as opportunities that they are. We lived well within our means (occasionally splurging on expensive meals for special events/milestones - oh yeah, water with lemon wedges are great and cheaper than sodas or any alcoholic beverage). Bought and kept vehicles for a long time (I still have my 4Runner I bought 16 years ago). Learned from mistakes along the way...and proud to report that after 20+ years in the Army in faithful service to our nation and the American way of life, I am ready to retire at age 44 and start the next phase of my life financially secure with a 7-figure portfolio augmented by a generous pension (my wife still wants to stay in the Army so our retirements from the Army would be staggered - read that this could be beneficial down the road).
Congratulations again and thanks for sharing!


How much do officers make? Must be pretty good to have 7 figures by 44. Also, you get a pension starting at that age? Pretty good total compensation package IMO.
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby anonranger » Sat May 04, 2013 9:03 pm

Congrats on reaching the milestone.

Would like to know what your portfolio was through the years?

Me and my wife are set it and forget it Vanguard lazy portfolio, 33 - US Stock, 33 - Int Stock, 34 - Bonds
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby exigent » Sat May 04, 2013 9:48 pm

"Live below your means and invest the difference in plain jane, low cost funds."

You should make bumper stickers and/or t-shirts with that line. Or at least put it in your forum signature. ;-)

P.S. Won't be long before you hit Flagship. :-)
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Re: 39 y.o. and 18 years of Vanguarding

Postby exigent » Sat May 04, 2013 9:48 pm

"Live below your means and invest the difference in plain jane, low cost funds."

You should make bumper stickers and/or t-shirts with that line. Or at least put it in your forum signature. ;-)

P.S. Won't be long before you hit Flagship. :-)
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