Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

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tim1999
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by tim1999 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:16 am

A local man who was a machinist in a factory his whole adult life until retiring 10 years ago left about $2 million to local charities after his recent death. I doubt he ever made more than $50k in 2014 dollars. He lived not far from me, drove a 25 year old truck, wore 25 year old clothes, and had no inheritance or family.

TylerS
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by TylerS » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:18 am

50k is plenty of money if you prioritize what you want to spend money on. I make just over 50k in a mid-major market, and manage to save 25% in 401K plus 4% match (would save more but company limits at 25%), Max Roth IRA, Max HSA, and Max ESPP. Still have plenty for multiple trips per year, etc. I Just don't spend much on items I don't value.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by mathwhiz » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:29 am

I think this is completely dependent on where you live and the cost of living involved. If you making that kind of money in most rural areas or small towns in the south or midwest where homes can cost $100k or below and the median household income is $30k, you are doing well for yourself.

In a place like NYC, Boston, SF, LA, you are probably struggling to live the lifestyle you want especially if you have a family.

tphp99
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by tphp99 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:47 am

Abe wrote:I wouldn't call it a success story, but the most I ever made was around 65k per year, and I have a multi million dollar networth. Now my investments produce way more than I ever made.
How long did this take you to accomplish? I would definitely consider it a success story. :sharebeer

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Pizzasteve510 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:12 am

To those who are calling this board hostile, I disagree. In general, I find the tone of all Internet discussion boards to contain posts which may appear hostile in a sense. This one is far more helpful than nearly all I have visited.

Anyone expecting gentle guidance, free of any trolls, may have unrealistic expectations.

Occasionally folks are scolded for asking questions a 15 sec google search can answer. They may get a 'take accountability for your own life' speech, if complaining about difficulty.

Those of us who have lived internationally and seen the third world first hand, seeing the true poor, often hard working folks in action, who have almost no opportunities at all, know pretty much anyone with Internet access and the ability to access this board, has the tools to have success.

I wish you all a truly happy and successful life. This is not measured in absolute $, but living within ones means, and perhaps having an acceptance of life's challenges, is one of the most important ways to lessen stress and be satisfied. Ignore all those marketing folks telling you wealth = happiness. It is not true.

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Chan_va
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Chan_va » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:15 am

Make sure that you are factoring in inflation in your responses.

50k/yr in 2014 equates to

6.2k/yr in 1960
8.1k/yr in 1970
17.3k/yr in 1980
27.4k/yr in 1990
36.2k/yr in 2000

Another way to look at it is how much you earned in 2014 $, if you earned 50k/yr at different points in time

50k/yr in 1960 is 401k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 1970 is 306k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 1980 is 144k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 1990 is 91k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 2000 is 70k/yr in 2014 $

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Abe
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Abe » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:19 am

tphp99 wrote:
Abe wrote:I wouldn't call it a success story, but the most I ever made was around 65k per year, and I have a multi million dollar networth. Now my investments produce way more than I ever made.
How long did this take you to accomplish? I would definitely consider it a success story. :sharebeer
Well, I deleted my original post that you quoted here because I thought it might sound boastful. After I deleted it, I saw your post. To answer your question, I am 71 years old and I started investing at a very young age. I reached my first million when I was in my 40's. I would like to encourage others who may not have a very high income. I can tell you from experience that it is possible. I did things a little different than the Boglehead way as far as how I got there, but I did three things that I believe are necessary to reach financial independence, that is to save, invest and compound.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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shokwaverider
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by shokwaverider » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:49 am

The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. $2m in CASH instruments or investments that give a return may just do it and I think just is key. This does not include owning you own home outright. Return is also a key. as a retiree myself I have a low tolerance for risk now I am not an earner. While I was a good investor when working, my returns have dropped to ~3% since retiring.

3% of $2m is only 60k before taxes.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by technovelist » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:02 am

shokwaverider wrote:The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. $2m in CASH instruments or investments that give a return may just do it and I think just is key. This does not include owning you own home outright. Return is also a key. as a retiree myself I have a low tolerance for risk now I am not an earner. While I was a good investor when working, my returns have dropped to ~3% since retiring.

3% of $2m is only 60k before taxes.
This of course is the result of decades of cumulative inflation. $1 million used to be a LOT of money. Now it is maybe just enough to supplement SS for a modest standard of living, probably partly annuitized to avoid running out of money.
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by S&L1940 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:05 am

Busting Myths wrote:I think a definition of "success" is needed.
Agree, just like defining what Enough is.

The dear wife and I made fair enough dollars but never really big time bucks. In our 70's, We are barely at the million, still, we are living the good life and while we could always use more, we do have enough...
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Chan_va wrote:Make sure that you are factoring in inflation in your responses.

50k/yr in 2014 equates to

6.2k/yr in 1960
8.1k/yr in 1970
17.3k/yr in 1980
27.4k/yr in 1990
36.2k/yr in 2000

Another way to look at it is how much you earned in 2014 $, if you earned 50k/yr at different points in time

50k/yr in 1960 is 401k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 1970 is 306k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 1980 is 144k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 1990 is 91k/yr in 2014 $
50k/yr in 2000 is 70k/yr in 2014 $
My folks fit in that category up above - you could say they did it partially the Boglehead way - LB their limited means, scrimping and saving, we had stay-cations though out my childhood, didn't own a car for 15 years - if there was no public transportation, we hoofed it or we didn't go. Determined to own a home, waited 20 years before they could scrape up a down payment in the days of double-digit mortgage rates (I chuckle when I see people worried about 4% mortgage rates). Retirement? Ha! they had jobs (required skill but no one wanted to pay for it - these days that work comes from Asian countries where the quality isn't so hot but again, no one wants to pay for it) with zero benefits (if you lost your job it was the unemployment line, no union) until a few years ago they were able to find a less physically taxing job, they had to pay out of pocket for medical insurance. Vacations? - our vacation was the local library or playing with the local kids. Things are tough today, they were tougher then. Out of ten siblings my folks had the least academic education and are the success of the family. Maybe it was a bit of luck - the real estate market in NY which we thought was out of control back then has really taken off (those making $50K today would not be able to afford to purchase the equivalent type home in today's market - you'd need $100K and even then it would be tight) and even though they didn't place too much trust in the market, they played good defense. Sheer grit and sacrifice!
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:37 pm

shokwaverider wrote:The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. $2m in CASH instruments or investments that give a return may just do it and I think just is key. This does not include owning you own home outright. Return is also a key. as a retiree myself I have a low tolerance for risk now I am not an earner. While I was a good investor when working, my returns have dropped to ~3% since retiring.

3% of $2m is only 60k before taxes.
Are you eating Alpo? Is your shelter the highway overpass or a tent in the woods? If not, you are a success. Most folks are not going to make it to Gordon Gekko status.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

jw424
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by jw424 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:36 pm

Started teaching in 1962 at $4300 per year.
Retired in 1993 (salary that year $53,000) with a pension reduced to $17,000 per year to cover wife if I passed before her.
Pension increases at a fixed $600 per year.

Have a paid for home in Michigan and a small condo in Florida. $700,000 in Roth IRAs.

Live well, have our health and three children. (collage grads) We are very blessed and well off in our minds.

It can be done.

Do have a very part time job (200 hrs per year) at Disney. Gives me $30 golf at their courses.

tj
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by tj » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:19 pm

shokwaverider wrote:The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. $2m in CASH instruments or investments that give a return may just do it and I think just is key. This does not include owning you own home outright. Return is also a key. as a retiree myself I have a low tolerance for risk now I am not an earner. While I was a good investor when working, my returns have dropped to ~3% since retiring.

3% of $2m is only 60k before taxes.

I disagree. I think I'd be just fine with 500k and a paid off residence. I think it'd be quite difficult to spend $60,000/year. ;-)

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by klarose » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:36 pm

I was lurking and just wanted to post to reply to some comments I seen on this board.

I had joined this forum because I love personal finance topics. After posting a few questions, and hanging around a couple topics I did feel this forum was very hostile to people on lower incomes and newbies.

I made around $35k last year, including what spouse contributes. I have a degree in computers (just graduating and still getting credentials), and my husband has a fairly nice job. We are in no way, slackers or unintelligent about money. We are young, and in a LCOL area. Our salaries are above average for where we live.

This forum made me feel like I was not good enough to post here because I wasn't making millions, and I don't have a 401k. I felt like I was talked down to. I have not posted since, although I do lurk from time to time. But even that is declining.

Just wanted to warn you guys that the vibe here is not very good to people that don't fit into your stereotypical "educated and wealthy" group.

We all have to start somewhere, and not all of us aspire to die with millions. I'm enjoying life just fine on my $35k.
Last edited by klarose on Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

klarose
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by klarose » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:42 pm

camptalcott wrote: 1000% agree. I would never suggest my son come to this board. Never. it's simply to hostile. He's 24 just graduated from college and is working an entry level job at UPS. Between his rent, student loans and living expenses (car insurance etc) he is barely able to save 3% of his salary in his 401K.

NO way would I encourage him to post here. to be told that he's a slacker, that it's his fault because if he'd stop buying Iphones (which he doesn't have) new cars (which he doesn't have) he'd be able to have millions of dollars saved or to be told because God forbid he actually went to have a beer while watching the eagles game with friend, he is destined to live under a bridge when he retires.
This is exactly what happened to me.

Monkeyboy
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Monkeyboy » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:55 pm

This thread caught my attention.I'm 59 and just retired this May.I think the most I ever made in my working life was about 63k a year,probably averaged around 55k the last 20yrs.The last 7 yrs I was saving 30% of my income and now have around 900k in my retirement funds,no pension or other income.It's not so much what you make,it's what you spend and the lifestyle you want.Fortunately my needs are not extravagant.FWIW Mike.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Sents » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:02 pm

I make less than $35,000 a year and I don't feel any hostility towards me.
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by flyingbison » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:02 pm

klarose wrote:
camptalcott wrote: 1000% agree. I would never suggest my son come to this board. Never. it's simply to hostile. He's 24 just graduated from college and is working an entry level job at UPS. Between his rent, student loans and living expenses (car insurance etc) he is barely able to save 3% of his salary in his 401K.

NO way would I encourage him to post here. to be told that he's a slacker, that it's his fault because if he'd stop buying Iphones (which he doesn't have) new cars (which he doesn't have) he'd be able to have millions of dollars saved or to be told because God forbid he actually went to have a beer while watching the eagles game with friend, he is destined to live under a bridge when he retires.
This is exactly what happened to me.
I've witnessed similar exchanges in the short time I've been around. As one of the under-50K crowd myself, I actually get a kick out of some of the stuff I see posted here. Lots of wealthy/high-income folks who think they make a lot of money because they are smarter and work harder than everyone else.

livesoft
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by livesoft » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:04 pm

Perhaps a way to circumvent this issue would be for more people to respond to requests for help?
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by ddunca1944 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:24 pm

I'm retired now, but never made $50K in my working years. The last few years before he retired DH made low $60's.
Most of my working life, I was a single parent (of two children and no child support) so was the sole provider for three. I did manage to save, tried to handle my finances prudently, and still enjoy life. Vacations were camping; we enjoyed it. Eventually I remarried a man who was also a saver so once my kids were launched we were really able to ramp the saving/investing. But we still managed to enjoy life; we love to travel and managed an international trip every few years.

We are comfortably retired now; our pensions and SS give us a higher standard of living than we had when we were working. Our retirement nest egg gives us enough to enjoy a very nice international trip every year (withdrawing no more than 2%). (I posted last year trying to decide whether to fly business class to Aisa - we did.... :D )

Since the measure of success, on this thread anyway, seems to be $2M in investments, I suppose we are a failure. But I don't feel like a failure. We own a beautiful home, a couple of nice vehicles, have the income to do the things we want (we don't have lavish tastes) and a retirement nest egg that should meet our needs for the remainder of our years. And possibly leave my children more than they would ever expect.
Last edited by ddunca1944 on Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ourtown
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by ourtown » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:25 pm

The challenge seems to be that there is a certain threshhold representing basic cost of living, which varies of course by circumstances and geographic area. If your net income is barely floating above that threshhold, then there truly is not much to invest, and a person in that situation is "successful" if he/she manages to live a frugal lifestyle and scrape together enough contributions to get the employer match in a 401(k) and/or put something in a Roth IRA. There is also the saver's credit, so I suppose a very resourcesful person with a limited income could turn around and invest the proceeds of the credit as well. If they do this consistently for a very long time they will "succeed" whether or not they ever make the 2-comma club.

Middle income people have more flexibility to invest if they don't succumb to lifestyle creep. I personally consider "middle income" to be anywhere in the 25% tax bracket, FWIW. I think they "succeed" if and when they prioritize correctly so that they can reach their long-term goals. Boglehead philosophy is absolutely essential to both of these types of wealth-accumulators.

As for the tone, I don't perceive any systemic hostility here toward middle or lower income folks; on the contrary, I think the majority of the posters are most helpful, and the board is very well moderated.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by technovelist » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:41 pm

My lifetime average inflation-adjusted salary is almost certainly less than $50,000 in today's dollars, even though I have made more than that on several occasions. I also have considerably less in savings than a lot of other members.

However, I don't feel excluded here.
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by montanagirl » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:49 pm

I think lower income get a little paranoid when they see the portfolio numbers tossed around here. I know I did. :o

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Abe » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:59 pm

klarose wrote: I had joined this forum because I love personal finance topics. After posting a few questions, and hanging around a couple topics I did feel this forum was very hostile to people on lower incomes and newbies.

I made around $35k last year, including what spouse contributes. I have a degree in computers (just graduating and still getting credentials), and my husband has a fairly nice job. We are in no way, slackers or unintelligent about money. We are young, and in a LCOL area. Our salaries are above average for where we live.

This forum made me feel like I was not good enough to post here because I wasn't making millions, and I don't have a 401k. I felt like I was talked down to. I have not posted since, although I do lurk from time to time. But even that is declining.

Just wanted to warn you guys that the vibe here is not very good to people that don't fit into your stereotypical "educated and wealthy" group.

We all have to start somewhere, and not all of us aspire to die with millions. I'm enjoying life just fine on my $35k.
I have to say that to some degree I agree with the above post.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Barefootgirl » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:11 pm

I consider my story an example of success, although for many years I've earned above $50K - simply because you can't look at income in a vacuum. As others have mentioned, higher incomes are correlated with local cost of living. In the beginning years of my career, without family support, connections or a savings cushion, I moved to the most expensive areas of this country just to be where the opportunities were. Through hard work and frugality, I am in the 7 figure club (actually I was there once before, fell out and now I'm back).

I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder - basically that if I can do it with all my disadvantages and setbacks, anyone can - and yet I am still compassionate and don't measure people with a financial yardstick. I am hardest on myself.

BFG
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by baker3232 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:43 pm

Not a success story in that I'm wealthy, and I made about $50 K at my peak years. Married, 2 kids grown, one at home with a slight handicap that will keep him from being completely independent, other on her own, wife never worked since marriage, so a single income family. Currently 59 years, retired at 55 to go part time, so semi retired. Started investing at about 35, read everything in sight and did everything completely on my own. Presently I make about 25 % on average more than during my full time working years. Lucky enough to have a defined benefit pension from my employer, a defined contribution plan from same employer that is now a LIRA, my own RRSP, and a taxable account. Home long since paid for, I always lived below my means and always "paid myself first" My only vice is cars, currently 2014 MB. I still save about 20 to 30 % of my income. Not a millionaire by a long shot, and may never be, unless I live a long life then maybe, and my govt. pensions will kick in. CPP at 60 and OAP at 65 and my wifes OAP at 65, I may never have to touch my investments for expenses. Like I say, not wealthy, but comfortable, and I did it my way. Sorry to be long winded. Love this site.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by MathWizard » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:44 pm

klarose wrote:I was lurking and just wanted to post to reply to some comments I seen on this board.

I had joined this forum because I love personal finance topics. After posting a few questions, and hanging around a couple topics I did feel this forum was very hostile to people on lower incomes and newbies.

I made around $35k last year, including what spouse contributes. I have a degree in computers (just graduating and still getting credentials), and my husband has a fairly nice job. We are in no way, slackers or unintelligent about money. We are young, and in a LCOL area. Our salaries are above average for where we live.

This forum made me feel like I was not good enough to post here because I wasn't making millions, and I don't have a 401k. I felt like I was talked down to. I have not posted since, although I do lurk from time to time. But even that is declining.

Just wanted to warn you guys that the vibe here is not very good to people that don't fit into your stereotypical "educated and wealthy" group.

We all have to start somewhere, and not all of us aspire to die with millions. I'm enjoying life just fine on my $35k.
I was about to respond that in my experience, I haven't seen hostility other than in cases where a someone offered advice
to a new poster that was factually incorrect and misleading and could have been easily verified.

However, I looked back at your posts, especially the thread which was I believe your first post:
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 1#p1944491
and in that case, I have to agree with you, some answers do appear to be condescending, especially for
the personal finance section. I hope mine was not.

I hope you give the group another chance, or at least keep lurking.
I believe the strength of this board is in the the investing section (since it is primarily an investing board)
but I have also found the Social Security advice to be excellent. (Shout-out to sscritic.)

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by BL » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:00 pm

klarose wrote:I was lurking and just wanted to post to reply to some comments I seen on this board.

I had joined this forum because I love personal finance topics. After posting a few questions, and hanging around a couple topics I did feel this forum was very hostile to people on lower incomes and newbies.

I made around $35k last year, including what spouse contributes. I have a degree in computers (just graduating and still getting credentials), and my husband has a fairly nice job. We are in no way, slackers or unintelligent about money. We are young, and in a LCOL area. Our salaries are above average for where we live.

This forum made me feel like I was not good enough to post here because I wasn't making millions, and I don't have a 401k. I felt like I was talked down to. I have not posted since, although I do lurk from time to time. But even that is declining.

Just wanted to warn you guys that the vibe here is not very good to people that don't fit into your stereotypical "educated and wealthy" group.

We all have to start somewhere, and not all of us aspire to die with millions. I'm enjoying life just fine on my $35k.
I am really sorry that some of you feel you are not welcome here. I have noticed an occasional nasty remark, mainly to one of the posters, not the OP. I have learned so much over the years as I read both here and at Morningstar, as well as the Boglehead's books, and owe this forum very much as I consider I lucked out finding Vanguard about 10 years ago just before I moved my (small) retirement savings to Vanguard from ICMARC where I was paying lots and wasn't smart about investing. I have never asked any questions about investing, but just read all I could find about it, and this was the best place I found. Anyway, that is one reason I like to pay back by helping others with ideas to consider when they ask here. Remember, there is no organized group here, except for the moderators and administrators. I don't know a soul here and no one knows me. A very few recent members seem to like to stir things up, but they can be called on it by clicking on the ! (exclamation point) in their post to get the attention of the moderators. I have learned to recognize the posters whose opinions and recommendations I most value and look for their validation of opinions of newer members, some of whom have excellent suggestions.

I have been on some forums that were consistently nasty, which maybe is to be expected by a bunch of anonymous posters, and others that had streaks of nasty where they brought out the worst in each other.

AFAIK, the Wiki and recommended books wouldn't have the anonymous posts you have run into, and this may be a way to avoid individual posts and yet gain a lot the information that may be useful to you. I think it is useful to get individual input, especially when the format for Asking Questions is followed so all the information is easily found to give the best recommendation.

anonforthis
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by anonforthis » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:12 pm

I love this site and I'm addicted. I am also low income. I like the fact that people here would tell me the truth instead of live is too short or live a little.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by mikefixac » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:55 pm

40 years ago I came to CA. It was tough. I had a pan top and removed the screw and knob. Then I stuffed the hole with foil. I would buy a 10 lb bag of potatoes and eggs and the pan top was what I cooked in.

I don't think I ever made anywhere near $30K, have had my own business since 1989. My luck was livng in poor areas because that's all I could afford and I ended up able to buy five properties. I made ~1/2MM from properties. Also happily married to someone who's frugal, but a more successful career.

What surprises me are those posters with lots of MM and still seem to fret. With our little nest egg I'm bewildered on how I could come close to spending it, especially when I'm happy on living ~$10K/year.

Just got back from Cambria and it was kind of weird. I felt like I didn't belong. Breakfast was hand carried to our room in the mornings and they even washed the front and back of our car windows.

And though I don't have the MMs that many talk about on this board (and, please, I certainly don't begrudge you, in fact in awe), I continually shake my head at how incredibly wealthy I am.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by irishbear99 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:47 pm

mikefixac wrote:40 years ago I came to CA. It was tough. I had a pan top and removed the screw and knob. Then I stuffed the hole with foil. I would buy a 10 lb bag of potatoes and eggs and the pan top was what I cooked in.

I don't think I ever made anywhere near $30K, have had my own business since 1989. My luck was livng in poor areas because that's all I could afford and I ended up able to buy five properties. I made ~1/2MM from properties. Also happily married to someone who's frugal, but a more successful career.

What surprises me are those posters with lots of MM and still seem to fret. With our little nest egg I'm bewildered on how I could come close to spending it, especially when I'm happy on living ~$10K/year.

Just got back from Cambria and it was kind of weird. I felt like I didn't belong. Breakfast was hand carried to our room in the mornings and they even washed the front and back of our car windows.

And though I don't have the MMs that many talk about on this board (and, please, I certainly don't begrudge you, in fact in awe), I continually shake my head at how incredibly wealthy I am.
Thank you for sharing this. I still have a few decades to go 'til retirement and, though I think I'm on track, it's disconcerting to read posts stating that $1MM doesn't even cut it anymore. I start to wonder if I'm deluding myself. Posts like yours help balance the discussion and temper that worry.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Rob5TCP » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:54 pm

I lived very frugally until I moved into Manhattan. Basically I spent $10,000-$20,000 a year. Now parking and rent exceed that. Before I moved here, I made way less than 50k, and saved 25-40% per year. By the time I came into the city I had about 500k in my retirement and savings account. The last 15+ my business has been very good and that has expanded dramatically. Still my greatest increases when was when I made the least (on a % basis of course).

If I lived the way I did in the past, I could probably live fine on 25k. While I am comfortable, certainly no where some of the people here that are mid 7 or even 8 figures.
Last edited by Rob5TCP on Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Johno » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:12 pm

avalpert wrote:
bungalow10 wrote:
Mike Scott wrote:This is a tough crowd to hang with if you are merely "middle class" which is too bad because the principles are the same. I have noticed several lower income first time posters that don't seem to come back after their first post.
You mean working class? Middle class is a wide range of income, something like ~75k/year to ~300k+/year... I'd say almost this entire board is "middle class".
So the median income doesn't put you in the middle class but having an income in the top 2% does?
Yes it is kind of strange to define 'middle class' as not including people of median income. Even the qualification 'middle income' v 'middle class' doesn't really solve that. But it's part of a general American societal anomaly. Practically nobody self identifies as anything higher than 'middle class'. Perhaps as and if recent income stratification intensifies and is passed down through the generations a significant group of people who view themselves as 'upper class' will re-emerge, but that's a rare and odd kind of person as of now. And then slicing/dicing the middle class into 'lower' or establishing what 'working class' actually means involves definitions that aren't universally accepted. Going to college or not nowadays is not a firm class distinction.

Anyway on the original question my parents were both originally high school teachers, though later became HS principal and guidance counselor respectively. I wouldn't say they never made more than $50k combined but I don't think either ever made much more individually, and they left a pre tax estate of around $1.5mil. This was awhile back and the incomes somewhat further back, my dad also retired early, but 'millionaire' and $50k are nominal measures. They were savers, but also there was high inflation in part of that period and house prices went up a lot where they lived, community changed from nice to a 'super zip' (per Charles Murray's book), full of 6 and 7 figure income Wall Streeters. The house, nice but quite modest if placed elsewhere, was more than a third of the estate, bought for $35k IIRC.

Now could you ever become a millionaire making $50k in the NY area? No way, unless the 'investments' included a side business that really took off, but that would really be making more than $50k labor income. You couldn't do it just with frugality and wise investing, unless there was another period of high inflation. :wink:

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by sdsailing » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:33 pm

The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. .....
Attribution removed because the intention is not to call out the poster, but to point out how such words and attitudes can be discouraging and, yes, hurtful.

The suggestion that one must have such an amount to live (like what, a normal person?) in retirement excludes the vast majority of the population.

Hopefully people will think about this a bit, and refrain from language that is exclusionary.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Luv2savmoney » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:57 pm

My 2 cents+tax

The benefits of this forum exceed any disadvantages by a huge margin
The guys/gals with multi millions worry because they want a particular life style that needs to be supported by the nest egg
I have a feeling that people who save a lot and hence are able to live at a low percent of their income will find it difficult to just go and spend crazy during all their retirement years.
If one earns <50K and is able to save X and live of the Y , as long as the nest egg+SS provides provides 0.8Y they are likely to be happy. Desires go lower with age..jeez I feel old already and I have some ways to go :D

Health is Wealth. If one is lucky to have it make sure to maintain it. I have my parents who are retired and in a decent shape. They earn 60-70%% of what they used to earn prior to retirement. Despite my not so specific suggestions to spend it on themselves, they claim they don't have any needs beyond housing (already paid off) and food which they say isn't something they need a lot. They have their routines (morning walks, doing day to day tasks very leisurely, volunteering for community activities,visiting my sibling who lives nearby etc).Another thing that they do is save money to buy the grand kids something on their birthdays.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Reb Tevye » Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:45 am

Here's a news story with anecdotes, and links to more anecdotes. It's done in the spirit of here are some recipes that have worked. And some EBRI statistics on actual retirees.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-retir ... 42598.html

The example couple:
- They had debt in their forties
- They read Dave Ramsey.
- They got their cash flow in order: debt then savings
- They right-sized their lifestyle
- 2 incomes. They both worked a lot of hours. One of which is a younger working spouse
- "Low cost index funds."
- No kids apparently.

The example widowed man:
- Worked to age 66.
- Takes SS.
- $250k in investments.
- Downsized to make his cash flow work.

I think the main mantra is that "ordinary folks can and do retire."
But it won't ever be the folks with Champagne tastes and a Beer budget.
"So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Abe » Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:48 am

baker3232 wrote:Not a success story in that I'm wealthy, and I made about $50 K at my peak years. Married, 2 kids grown, one at home with a slight handicap that will keep him from being completely independent, other on her own, wife never worked since marriage, so a single income family. Currently 59 years, retired at 55 to go part time, so semi retired. Started investing at about 35, read everything in sight and did everything completely on my own. Presently I make about 25 % on average more than during my full time working years. Lucky enough to have a defined benefit pension from my employer, a defined contribution plan from same employer that is now a LIRA, my own RRSP, and a taxable account. Home long since paid for, I always lived below my means and always "paid myself first" My only vice is cars, currently 2014 MB. I still save about 20 to 30 % of my income. Not a millionaire by a long shot, and may never be, unless I live a long life then maybe, and my govt. pensions will kick in. CPP at 60 and OAP at 65 and my wifes OAP at 65, I may never have to touch my investments for expenses. Like I say, not wealthy, but comfortable, and I did it my way. Sorry to be long winded. Love this site.
But you are successful.
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by avalpert » Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:49 am

Johno wrote:
avalpert wrote:
bungalow10 wrote:
Mike Scott wrote:This is a tough crowd to hang with if you are merely "middle class" which is too bad because the principles are the same. I have noticed several lower income first time posters that don't seem to come back after their first post.
You mean working class? Middle class is a wide range of income, something like ~75k/year to ~300k+/year... I'd say almost this entire board is "middle class".
So the median income doesn't put you in the middle class but having an income in the top 2% does?
Yes it is kind of strange to define 'middle class' as not including people of median income. Even the qualification 'middle income' v 'middle class' doesn't really solve that. But it's part of a general American societal anomaly. Practically nobody self identifies as anything higher than 'middle class'.
It's kind of amusing - everyone has above average intelligence, looks, work ethic etc. but when it comes to their class they are all smack in the middle...

In regards to some of the other posts here - I do agree that there is sometimes a lack of perspective by people who couldn't imagine living on less than they do now. But I also think the benefits of this forum dwarf that narrowsightedness of some participants and that virtually all advice threads I read are civil if sometimes direct.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Trader Joe » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:05 am

No, in the United States someone making less than $50,000 per year is not considered successful. In fact just the opposite.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by assumer » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:09 am

I think that's because we value financial planning to such a high degree that we know that for one to have the best chance of financial success usually means a STEM or advanced degree in one form or another. A lot here look highly upon prudent planning from a young age such as choice of major.

So from a simply objective perspective, those "choices" in your life about what you want to do, can be tailored to increase your chance of financial success from an early age. Also though there's some self selection bias, in that most members here have enough money to invest prudently because they made those early choices, so you are left with a core group of people who know that their own pathway was successful.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by tj » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:23 am

Trader Joe wrote:No, in the United States someone making less than $50,000 per year is not considered successful. In fact just the opposite.
I disagree. A single person making around 50k is rather successful. Especially in LCOL areas.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by avalpert » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:28 am

assumer wrote:I think that's because we value financial planning to such a high degree that we know that for one to have the best chance of financial success usually means a STEM or advanced degree in one form or another. A lot here look highly upon prudent planning from a young age such as choice of major.

So from a simply objective perspective, those "choices" in your life about what you want to do, can be tailored to increase your chance of financial success from an early age. Also though there's some self selection bias, in that most members here have enough money to invest prudently because they made those early choices, so you are left with a core group of people who know that their own pathway was successful.
I think you should avoid speaking for 'we'.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Johno » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:41 am

sdsailing wrote:
The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. .....
Attribution removed because the intention is not to call out the poster, but to point out how such words and attitudes can be discouraging and, yes, hurtful.

The suggestion that one must have such an amount to live (like what, a normal person?) in retirement excludes the vast majority of the population.

Hopefully people will think about this a bit, and refrain from language that is exclusionary.
As still relative newcomer here, I agree there are some affectations common on this forum which can be jarring to 'normal people', particularly apparent in personal finance discussions. However saying that $1mil doesn't cut it is only slightly exaggerating. The payout on an inflation adjusted $1mil annuity at normal retirement age is only around $40k, so with $20k-ish Social Security: $60k income, a little above median. Of course some can live well and happily for much less, a large % do (happily or not) right now*. And in general people might still expect to live on a bit less in retirement than when working, but $1mil assets hardly results in some nosebleed level of sustainable spending in retirement.

In the past, as we all know, many more people had defined benefit pensions, the PV's of which might well reach the ballpark of $1mil even for fairly normal jobs, if inflated to today's $'s and life expectancy, and the payouts discounted by today's low expected returns. For those who still have good pensions, then sure $100's k or $1mil in retirement savings is a luxury. But for those in the 40% of 3rd and 4th quintile of income* who don't have pensions, $1mil is really not *that* much.

True, few Americans are headed toward accumulating anywhere near $1mil in retirement savings, IOW there's a huge looming problem.

*the first and second quintiles of income have medians of 11.6k and $30.5k (Census Bureau for 2013 issued just the other day). People can read what they like but I doubt that 40% can get much value reading about how to invest money they don't have, and I doubt they make up more than a very small % of the readership of this forum. 3rd and 4th quintile medians are $52.3k and 83.5k.
http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Censu ... 60-249.pdf

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by juanovo » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:06 am

My father retired in ’98 maxing out at 41,0000 a year. 8 kids went to college, though with only minimal support from mom and dad. They gave 10% to charity every year. They have pensions, social security and small retirement savings. My dad just received a small veteran benefit. They don't own their home outright but have no problem making the payments. They own a small condo on the Oregon Coast. My mom is a master of LBYM. They don't know what to do with the money they received from the VA. They feel they don't need it. To me that is financial success.

Using what I learned from my parents I saved money in a 401k while an undergrad, graduated with no debt, and for the first few years of living in the Bay area was able to save some money while only making 48k a year. We probably could not have bought a house in the Bay Area without help from my SOs family but we could have lived a saved a little year to year. Multi millions? No way. Enough to get by and live a good life? You bet. LBYM and the associated lifestyle standard is the number one indicator of success to me, because I define it to my satisfaction.

Not to further hijack this thread, but I too have felt the board quite hostile. On my second or third post folks were outright insulting to me. One person provided comments that were helpful.

I was partly to blame, in that post I was purposefully vague, because I was new (to investing) and because I was new to the forum and did not feel comfortable sharing details. In the end the mocking members of the board who laughed at the stupidity of my question were not quite right. I just did not know how to describe a 721 exchange at the time (and did not know to call it by that name). Maybe they thought I was a troll. What newbies bring up 721exchanges after all? But yeah they were down right nasty.
Edit for typo

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by assumer » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:33 am

avalpert wrote:
assumer wrote:I think that's because we value financial planning to such a high degree that we know that for one to have the best chance of financial success usually means a STEM or advanced degree in one form or another. A lot here look highly upon prudent planning from a young age such as choice of major.

So from a simply objective perspective, those "choices" in your life about what you want to do, can be tailored to increase your chance of financial success from an early age. Also though there's some self selection bias, in that most members here have enough money to invest prudently because they made those early choices, so you are left with a core group of people who know that their own pathway was successful.
I think you should avoid speaking for 'we'.
Didn't mean to point out things which weren't true, just something I notice, which may be wrong and not apply to specific members. For that I'll apologize for generalizing. I try to keep myself in check with judging others and their choices, but I've noticed it on this board a few times. Who knows though, maybe others here don't try to push new younger members towards their specific paths. Or maybe I'm just remembering the times I did notice it, and applied it too broadly.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by Bud » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:00 pm

Interesting thread and I have enjoyed reading the variety of thoughts. Success is an interesting quality.

Last year was the first time my wife and I together ever cleared $50,000. It isn't for lack of education or opportunity. We made intentional choices that included lower income, but higher job satisfaction and more quality family time, among other benefits. Thankfully, with a simple lifestyle and also some fortunately timed investments, we are now worth quite a bit more than $1m.

A few questions to ponder: How successful are we if we have money but have sacrificed health and relationships? How successful are we if we have money but work at something we don't enjoy or are in the company of those that drain our energy? How successful are we if we select money over location? It is amazing how often we think that success can be monetized, but there are so many things that enter into the equation and determine what success really is.

Of course, all that being said, I also have friends that are worth north of $100m, have healthy families, happy lives, generous giving habits, and are examples of how life should be lived. So the choices don't always mean sacrificing finances for other things, but often it does, and unfortunately in American culture money is too often the measure of success.

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by TheTimeLord » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:11 pm

shokwaverider wrote:The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. $2m in CASH instruments or investments that give a return may just do it and I think just is key. This does not include owning you own home outright. Return is also a key. as a retiree myself I have a low tolerance for risk now I am not an earner. While I was a good investor when working, my returns have dropped to ~3% since retiring.

3% of $2m is only 60k before taxes.
Consider half the households in America make $50,000 or less, I think someone with $1 million, no debt and modest Social Security is probably doing far better than you imply. To be honest I think your post borders on insulting.
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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by tj » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:02 pm

StarbuxInvestor wrote:
shokwaverider wrote:The problem as I see it is that $1m does not cut it any more. $2m in CASH instruments or investments that give a return may just do it and I think just is key. This does not include owning you own home outright. Return is also a key. as a retiree myself I have a low tolerance for risk now I am not an earner. While I was a good investor when working, my returns have dropped to ~3% since retiring.

3% of $2m is only 60k before taxes.
Consider half the households in America make $50,000 or less, I think someone with $1 million, no debt and modest Social Security is probably doing far better than you imply. To be honest I think your post borders on insulting.

+1

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Re: Any success stories of ppl who never made >$50,000?

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:06 pm

This thread has run its course and is locked (not personal nor actionable). See: A reminder that non-investing general comment threads are OT
- It must be personal. In other words, you must be asking about your own situation. You can also ask on behalf of someone specific, such as a family member.

- It must be actionable. You must be able to do something specific with the replies that will make a difference in your situation.
The thread was off-topic to begin with and we're now discussing attitudes of member responses along with socio-economic status.

I want to be very clear that everyone is welcome to post here, regardless of income level. Members who feel intimidated to post because of their situation are especially encouraged to do just that. We're here to help.

If anyone feels uncomfortable about someone's reply, please report the post using the "!" in the upper right corner of the post and we'll investigate.
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