When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

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Bonhomie
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When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Bonhomie » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:42 pm

Hi Everyone,

DW and I are 27. We have good jobs and are saving 20% of our income toward retirement. We lived off one income until she finished grad school a couple years ago. We got married. This year, we knocked out all of our student loans. We also financed a new car. My car is 21 years old and will need to be replaced soon. We are are saving for a down payment, which we will hand over when we buy a house next year. We are expecting to have a child a couple years after that.

My bank account hasn't grow much over the past few years and I have to keep a "net worth" spreadsheet just to remind myself that I am accumulating wealth. I keep a strict budget, and even though I know we are doing well, I just haven't felt at ease about our savings. Maybe it's a sign I need a larger emergency fund (?). I'm hoping as our incomes rise, I will feel like we've made it up the money hill and can take a breather.

When did you finally feel "out of the woods" financially?

Thanks,


Bonhomie

technovelist
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by technovelist » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:49 pm

I still don't feel completely out of the woods. The trouble with saving and investing is that, in most cases, you don't know if you've won the game until it's over. :confused
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Professor Emeritus
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the woods"?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:52 pm

When I was 40 years old I knew the kids would go to college and we would never lose the house even if i became totally disabled and could not work. When I was 50 years old I knew we could retire modestly even if I never worked again. When I hit 60 my wife was disabled and we went back into the woods, albeit comfortably

We bought a house when I was 26, had our kids when I was 32 and 34. We bought our first new car at 37

chaz
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by chaz » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:00 pm

When I got my commission in the USAF.
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Sunny Sarkar
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Sunny Sarkar » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:06 pm

Health care and Long term care in retirement gives me that unknown + unlimited hibijibis that I don't know if I'll ever get out of.
"Cost matters". "Stay the course". "Press on, regardless". ― John C. Bogle

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tyrion
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by tyrion » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:16 pm

My list probably looks something like this:
Kids in school (no day care costs)
Retirement on track
Fixed housing costs (mortgage either paid off or a reasonable portion of monthly costs)
Two incomes
Able to survive on one income


I have the first 3 covered. Once my spouse goes back to work I hope I'll feel 'out of the woods'.

swaption
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by swaption » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:18 pm

I would say come to terms with the uncertainties inherent in life, because my bet is it ain't going to change for you any time soon. Being out fo the woods might not be so great anyway, so you might as well learn to enjoy the woods.

Put differently, with no house and no kids yet, the way I see it you just barely are even in the woods, so way too early to be thinking about coming out of the woods. You have a whole lot of stuff ahead of you.

munemaker
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by munemaker » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:41 pm

At this point in life, I feel out of the woods.

My two kids have graduated from college, are employed in their respective fields and do not require financial subsidies from me.

We have not had any debt for many years and have reached critical mass for retirement. We are still working because we like what we do.

That being said, we are all just a serious health problem away from being seriously back in the woods, so one can never really feel totally comfortable.

Ron
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Ron » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:17 pm

Never have and never will.

Unlike most folks, our financial/emotional commitment won't end until we both pass. That's the story with parents with disabled (adult) "kids" without a family to take care of them after the parents (us) have passed.

I'm not looking for pity (please don't respond with any). However, our financial goals are much different than most, since we had to set up a financial schema for our son that will take care of the lawyers, the commercial trust, and the investment manager that we have retained for his "life management" after we're gone (which could happen tomorrow), and continue to look at every dollar we spend today and how it may affect his distant future.

While some folks look at having enough money to last their retirement, we look at how we can make sure the next generation's specific needs are financed. It's a much trickier situation, which requires a lot more financial resources.

As I quoted in another post - you can never be to rich or too thin (by the Duchess of Windsor). It rings a bit of truth, for us.

Nope; we'll never be there, while still alive.

Since you asked...

- Ron

jackietreehorn
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by jackietreehorn » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:25 pm

I don't know if one ever feels "out of the woods." The most you can do is invest the "Boglehead" way and know, no matter what life throws at you, you did the best you could financially. You look like your doing great, already. What you've accomplished already, is much more than others your age. Keep up the good work.

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stemikger
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by stemikger » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:35 pm

I thought I'd feel out of the woods with a paid off home, but the year I paid off my home, my daughter started college. I am cash flowing her undergraduate education and she will get her BA with no student loans. I'm not so sure I can do the same for her graduate education, but I'm going to give it my best shot. I think I'll feel a big difference when I have no more college costs. However, I know that those payments will then go to home repairs and a new car.

Just keep doing what you are doing and every year, you should feel more stable as the years go by. Good Luck!

P.S. Don't go over your head with the new house. If anything will make you feel in the woods, it's a big house payment.
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dgdevil
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by dgdevil » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:49 pm

Paid off the house when I was 39 - a pretty significant step away from the woods.

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Bustoff
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Bustoff » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:51 pm

When I kept hearing about people my age dying or being stricken with life altering illnesses.

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obgyn65
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by obgyn65 » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:37 pm

I started to feel "out of the woods" financially speaking a few months ago when I realized that my annual expenses equal more or less 1% of my net worth. I am 49, haven't found the courage to retire yet.
Last edited by obgyn65 on Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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surfstar
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by surfstar » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:45 pm

You're looking at it the wrong way...

Forests are great places to be lost in and enjoy :D

Enjoy the ride - don't forget to stop and smell the roses.


I believe worry is similar to happiness - i.e. a person has a baseline and no matter the circumstances, they will revert to their own mean over time (like those studies that say $75/yr is the income plateau for happiness)
Try to worry less and be happy more :D happy Friday :sharebeer

rayout
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by rayout » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:06 pm

Bought and moved into a duplex a couple of years ago that has sufficient cashflow that I could pretty much survive frugally (i.e. no eating out) and make the mortgage assuming I had full occupancy (two roommates + 1 tenant). Pretty comfortable after that but that has not stopped me from trying to achieve as much as possible in my career.

Swampy
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Swampy » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:08 pm

1998

Not long after that I got creamed!
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Peter Foley
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Peter Foley » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:45 pm

I was 30 when my wife and I married. We had a house but rented out the upstairs to college friends for the first 5 years we owned it. About the time my second daughter was born (I was 34) I got a promotion and a decent pay raise. By age 35 we were saving a bit and paying down our mortgage. Day care and diapers were big expenses. Very little money spent on entertainment - mostly visiting out of town family.

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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by livesoft » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:10 pm

I started my sophomore year in college. I knew that I would never ever go back and live with my folks ever again. I had no car, a $600 school loan, a 20+ hour a week job as a custodian, enough money for next semester's tuition, my own stereo system, and I was on my own. I knew I had made it.
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pjstack
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by pjstack » Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:39 pm

chaz wrote:When I got my commission in the USAF.

When I retired from the USAF. (I was single then.)
pjstack

absolutFinance
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by absolutFinance » Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:21 am

made 7 figures selling my business a couple of years ago and still don't feel completely "out of the woods". I think it's just my nature to worry a little (or a lot)

IlliniDave
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:44 am

I'm one of those people who probably never feels completely out of the woods. The woods are a scary place that can be quite resourceful in dealing out body blows.

However, I reached a point where between even substantially sub-historical growth in my 401k (and no additional contributions) and SS I knew I'd probably be okay (somewhat more than enough) once I hit full retirement age (67-70). This included having a paid off house. Those together allowed me a large sigh. I should also note that my kids were 21 or older by then and had completed all the education they decided they wanted on the Dad Scholarship Program. Further, I was single again by then too. So the scope of my worries had narrowed.

I then began building up assets outside of retirement accounts aiming at an early retirement. And each month as a little more got added to that pile I felt a little further from the woods. I've just screwed that up by leaning forward and signing a contract to purchase my future summer home ahead of schedule (plan was to use the value of my current home and split it between a substantially downsized primary home and a cabin-in-the-woods for summer residence upon retirement). So I've leaped back into the woods again for the next two years while I get that paid off. I guess I'm addicted to the adrenaline surge of feeling my back against the wall (or being lost in the big woods) :P
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poker27
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by poker27 » Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:16 am

I probably wont feel 'out of the woods' until I have enough cash to live till I'm 100.

There were different steps in my life that made me feel more confident. EX fully funding my emergency fund, getting to certain levels in my 401k, putting $ into taxable.

Dandy
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Dandy » Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:16 am

Early stages you are mostly in the woods. House, children then their education keep you from getting into the clearing for the most part. It is a long hike to the clearing for most of us. It seems just when you are about to break through a bit you need to get a new roof, car or something else.

Things get brighter when you are out of and stay out of debt. A little brighter when you pay off your house or get you children through college. I was seeing the light for awhile till I lost my job at 52 - that didn't last long. Feeling the light again just before retirement in 2008 and it went quite dark for awhile. Now in my mid 60's with the house paid off, collecting some pension and having a diversified portfolio I feel I'm in the clearing.

All you can do is save, live below your means and keep on trucking. Oh and enjoy the trip along the way - money isn't everything.

scouter
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by scouter » Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:46 am

Don't know that you ever feel financially "out of the woods" until close to retirement, but here's something that helped us along the way. Since we have kept all of our finances on Quicken for the last 22 years, about once a year I would have Quicken create a "Net Worth Graph" from the starting date to the current date. The first ten years or so it wasn't very impressive, just a slowly climbing line with dips from market corrections and bumps from small windfalls we invested. But as the years went by, compounding began to work its magic and the slope of the line began getting steeper and steeper.

This inspired us to invest even more, which accelerated the compounding.

I guess you could say that when our investments were earning more than we were, we began to feel "out of the woods".

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cfs
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by cfs » Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:54 am

Upon retirement.

Actually, not long ago, when I officially retired from the workforce in May 2014 and now I have a Saturday mentality, today is Saturday, tomorrow is Saturday, the day after tomorrow is Saturday. Now, for me, capital preservation and injury prevention are paramount.
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Jazztonight
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Jazztonight » Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:12 am

Good question.

Answer:
When these three things happened in the same year (2000):

1. My youngest child graduated from college (which I was paying for in cash, no loans).
2. Our mortgage was paid off (we'd accelerated our monthly payments to coincide with #1)
3. I felt comfortable enough to go from a full time to part time work schedule and return to college to pursue a degree in my passion (music), while I continued to live within or below my means.

I was 54.

It all takes planning, sacrifice, time, and perseverance. And guts.
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by ubermax » Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:26 am

technovelist wrote:I still don't feel completely out of the woods. The trouble with saving and investing is that, in most cases, you don't know if you've won the game until it's over. :confused


+1

simple , elegant, and true - there are so many things out of our control , many people felt they were out of the woods in late 2007 and then were back in the weeds in early 2009 , and there are many other things out of our control - I think there are probably many people with a lot of money who still look over their shoulder .

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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:01 am

Very few people ever feel "out of the woods" financially until they're near death. A larger percentage of bogleheads may get to that point vs. the general population, but you have to remember that many wouldn't have gotten to that point without considerable headwinds that you may not experience. If you experience decades of near-zero real investment returns, and near-zero real salary increases, it's going to be a lot less likely you'll ever feel you're out of the woods. But even outside of the finances, there are all kinds of disasters that could unravel your best plans, so while the forum is very focused on planning and deferred gratification, remember that it suffers from a certain degree of survivorship bias.

countofmc
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by countofmc » Sat Sep 20, 2014 12:05 pm

I think you are asking the wrong forum. People that post here by nature are the types that will never feel "out of the woods" financially. I mean heck every once in a while you have the "am I ready to retire" threads where the poster has a 2 million dollar nest egg with a pension and still wonders if that's enough.

I've set goals for myself where I thought, "hey if I reach this I'll feel a bit more secure", and that never happened, because after that there was another level I needed to reach to "feel secure".

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BTDT
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by BTDT » Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:03 pm

cfs wrote:Upon retirement.

Actually, not long ago, when I officially retired from the workforce in May 2014 and now I have a Saturday mentality, today is Saturday, tomorrow is Saturday, the day after tomorrow is Saturday.


+1
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stemikger
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by stemikger » Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:54 pm

jvclark02 wrote:
cfs wrote:Upon retirement.

Actually, not long ago, when I officially retired from the workforce in May 2014 and now I have a Saturday mentality, today is Saturday, tomorrow is Saturday, the day after tomorrow is Saturday.


+1


+1 What a great mentality. I wish I was there. I don't want to wish my life away, but I can't wait to have that outlook.
Choose Simplicity ~ Stay the Course!! ~ Press on Regardless!!!

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htdrag11
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by htdrag11 » Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:22 pm

+1.

I'm a positive thinker.

For the eighth time, I'll be retiring next week. Just had a positive check up to boot, so is the wife.

A few years ago when my workplace moved, I've problem transitioning (not money). I've a healthcare package to cover wife and me, plus a pension (a rarity these days).

Our expenses will be less than our unearned income. If we ever downsize, our debt free house would free up additional money.

Zero debt and our child moved out with a net worth more than 80% of the population at age 29 with an enviable career.

We're indeed blessed.

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htdrag11
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by htdrag11 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:55 am

BTW, someone I suggested that I should read Ernie Zelinski's book on The Joy of Not Working... It's one of the few books I actually bought in the last 3 years. Age wise, I'm not ready to collect my SS checks yet.

vested1
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by vested1 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:51 am

When I divorced my harpy ex-wife. I emerged from the woods, the sun was shining, and now those choking vines are a distant memory. My current wife of 20 years would agree with me. Sometimes slipping the anchor is the best way to sail happily into the sunset.

LongerPrimer
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by LongerPrimer » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:20 am

^ I liked that.

I kinda made the woods or perhaps moved to woods more to our liking. The James T. Kirk methodology. :D :oops:

MP173
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by MP173 » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:10 am

I am not sure if I ever had that "ah ha" moment when the woods cleared and I was in pasture. It has been a journey. When I was your age, my wife and I faced similar challenges, but both of us were young, had our health and our first son was en route. She had a career with good earning potential (nurse) and I had a frustrating job with low pay and no emotional rewards. A few years later I made a career move which allowed me to meet financial and emotional goals...25 years later I am still there and loving it.

We hit bumps and then craters...deep craters along the way. Cancer and ultimately death. That brought on a new set of "Woods"...very dark at times. Financially we had placed safety nets in place so that was one aspect which was not an issue. With two boys to raise there was enough on the plate. My recommendation to you is to protect yourselves in the event the unexpected and unthinkable occurs.

Probably the best moment I have had financially has been twice...paying off the mortgages on the houses and being debt free. With a variable income that is a great feeling. The first time was in 2008 when the "Great Recession" hit and my income dropped dramatically. It sure was comforting to know that the mortgage was paid off. Upon marriage we purchased a house together and we quickly paid it off. Again...a great feeling, particularly with retirement about 6-10 years away.

Make smart prudent decisions. Live within your means. Be grateful for what you have and do not envy those who have what you wish you was yours...there might be strings attached that are very tight at times.

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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by mass_biker » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:52 am

I don't think you ever feel totally "out of the woods" as a BHer. But having been at it for a while, there are some interesting signposts that remind you that you are making progress:

* when your existing IRA/401k portfolio (at some nominal rate - say 3-5%) throws off more in the way of earnings than you
a) made your first year working
b) can contribute per IRS code (17.5 IRA + 5.5 TIRA etc.)

* when you can pay housing expense (mortgage/PITI) on one 2 week paycheck

* when you welcome market downturns to 'tilt" your portfolio into asset classes that have sold off

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stemikger
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by stemikger » Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:04 pm

Although I responded to this post earlier, I would like to tell a little story.

Many years ago when my wife and I were first married, we were beyond poor. Not that I'm a high earner now, but going out to dinner was a big event back then. We used to visit a place we still go to called New Hope, Pa and eat at a little restaurant in town. Some memories stick with you and this was one of them. I remember sitting near a table and seeing a couple in their mid fifties with what looked like their daughter and her boyfriend. They all seemed so relaxed. I fantasized how when I am that age, getting the bill at the end of a meal out would not be so anxiety inducing and if I ever have children I can treat them and their boyfriends or girlfriends to a nice day out.

Well fast forward 23 years later I was out with my daughter who is 20 and her partner who is 21 and we were eating at that same place. There was no worry about getting the bill and we were just as relaxed as that couple all those years ago. With 20 years at the same firm, a home that is paid off and I will get by in retirement, even if I can't contribute the max from here on in. So I guess I have been out of the woods and just needed to take the time to realize it.
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kaudrey
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by kaudrey » Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:55 pm

I am hoping I feel out of the woods the day I decide to retire...even though we are on track for our retirement, it is 12 years away, and I always feel that we could save more/spend less etc. But, we have found a balance that allows us to enjoy now and still reach our future goals, so I don't obsess about it. I don't feel out of the woods, but I don't lay awake thinking about it at night.

Having said that - you are saving 20% of your income - that is more than most Americans and certainly more than most people your age. Congrats on paying down the student loans!

Life still has a lot to throw at you - but do your best to stay on course, stay out of debt (except the mortgage), keep saving toward retirement, etc. and you will be fine.

ArthurO
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by ArthurO » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:01 pm

I will feel out of the woods when my portfolio will reach 5M, I can take 3% out of 20%stock/80% fixed at that point and have 150K a year before taxes to afford whetever I want.

Bad news is, that I will never be out of the woods probably, I am too conservative....

atfish
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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by atfish » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:18 pm

I
We actually "live in the woods", so I hope to never leave. Since retiring we bought 3 wooded acres and built a house in the middle of the property. We really enjoy the birds, squirrels, deer, etc. Financially we felt "out of the woods" when we managed to live off of SS & our pensions & use our investments for travel or ?????

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Re: When did you feel "Out of the Woods"?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:21 pm

Still not there, but check back in about 20 years...maybe, just maybe......
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