Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

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wanderlust14
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Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by wanderlust14 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:09 am

While both personal choices (career path, spending habits, spouse selection) and behavioral factors (delaying gratification, risk tolerance) all affect one's personal finances, I think most would agree there is a bit of luck involved along the way. What was your luckiest moment?

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walletless
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by walletless » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:14 am

Fortunate enough to have two very lucky breaks:
1) Parents paid for most of my college education. I intend to do the same for my kids.
2) A frugal room mate in college introduced me to saving, finding deals on slickdeals/fatwallet etc.

And ofcourse, finding bogleheads.org. I found it a bit late (early 30s) so I had spent the first several years of my career saving & keeping money in near-0 interest savings account.. but better late than never! I'm investing bogleheads-style since 2 years now.

Next step is to look at real estate investing. Some folks here have talked about biggerpockets forum, but I've not researched a lot here.
Last edited by walletless on Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

ny_rn
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by ny_rn » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:15 am

Finding a little website called www.bogleheads.org.

Fallible
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Fallible » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:09 am

Discovering Jack Bogle and index funds.
John Bogle on his often bumpy road to low-cost indexing: "When a door closes, if you look long enough and hard enough, if you're strong enough, you'll find a window that opens."

furikake
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by furikake » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:31 am

Biggest break was mega corp laid me off, so I got out of my shell and started my own business and luckily it took off.

Spirit Rider
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Spirit Rider » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:01 am

It wasn't by any means the biggest lucky break, but certainly has been the most satisfying and sleeping well at night decision. But it wasn't luck, it was some anonymous guy named Mel extolling the virtues of I-Bonds more than 15 years ago.

2comma
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by 2comma » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:03 am

There have been many but the biggest was meeting a co-worker when I was in my late 30's that taught be about John Bogle, the Bogleheads and low cost investing. It works! We both retired early.
If I am stupid I will pay.

JoinToday
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by JoinToday » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:18 am

Three things:

1. Reading many of the books recommended here. All the pieces were in place after reading a some of them, and the light turned on after reading Rick Ferri's "All About Asset Allocation". After seeing the examples presented, I finally understood how to set up my asset allocation & spreadsheet. The books that followed cemented my understanding.

2. My knowledge of radar systems: coherent signals add as a function of N, and noise adds as a function of sqrt(N). With this, I understood the value of diversification and the efficient frontier. Engineering math skills helped in general.

3. All the discussions on this forum. I especially learned from the differences of opinion; reading and reflecting on the nuanced differences of opinion was a great source of learning.

I have immense gratitude for what I have learned here.
I wish I had learned about index funds 25 years ago

anonenigma
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by anonenigma » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:22 am

Timing. College was very cheap when I attended.

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Sheepdog
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Sheepdog » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:41 am

Just as I was soon to retire in 1998, Morningstar's Vanguard Diehard forum was founded by Taylor Larimore and others. I was not sure on how I was going to invest my savings and budget my retirement withdrawals. The contributors to that forum and the succeeding Bogleheads guided me wonderfully. That was MY lucky break by far.
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jjface
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by jjface » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:42 am

Still waiting!

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GerryL
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by GerryL » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:29 am

I always consider myself lucky to have had parents who taught me the importance of saving and the fact that I am frugal by nature, but one single "lucky break" about 23 years ago probably made a big difference in my financial success: the perfect-timing arrival in my mailbox of an issue of Consumer Reports that explained mutual funds. I had heard/read that it was important to invest in the stock market and I had heard about something called mutual funds, but I knew absolutely nothing about investing. The CR issue came just as I was faced with figuring out what to do with the $17k of maturing CDs in my little IRA. The big takeaway in the CR article was the importance of expense, especially expense ratios. I selected a no-load stock fund that was included in the CR table. It was only years later that I learned about index funds and passive investing and diversification, but that well-timed article got me started on the right track.

sambb
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by sambb » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:46 am

Not finding bogleheads. Instead, investing in Apple as I believed in the company prior to first iPhone. Seeing people in line for the phone, and seeing analysts saying it was not going to be successful (they were wrong - and they had blackberries). It is NOT true that things are always priced in the market. Sometimes the market makers get it wrong. And that is an opportunity.
I made a lot of money in apple stock, and it paid off my house, etc.
I am so lucky I didn't listen to bogleheads at that point. I would be much worse off financially. Picking apple wasn't lucky - it was obvious. But i am lucky i didn't get into bogleheads until after that point - that was lucky.
Now that i made it, i am happy with a "market" return.
Other lucky breaks - going to an Ivy league school instead of public, and buying a modern safe car (instead of keeping an older camry) to protect me in an accident, so i wouldn't be disabled when i was hit.

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Toons
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Toons » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:53 am

My next door neighbor mentioned an investment company called "Vanguard" to me 20 years ago. :happy
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:01 am

Marrying up.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

ControlContentment
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by ControlContentment » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:13 am

Meeting my wife. I was a so-so software sales person before her. More logic than emotion. She helped me get the emotion and human connection part. My income doubled as a result

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LiveSimple
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by LiveSimple » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:27 am

Many good things happened, without really understanding.

15+ years ago the company I worked for, had Vanguard as the 401 K provider, hence selected some funds by the name, involving domestic, international, bond and REITs.

After reading and understanding many books now, looking back on my prior statements, the asset allocation and fund choices were reasonable.

May be need to contribute to getting a good education, marriage and hence work for a great company with great 401 K, etc.

anonforthis
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by anonforthis » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:43 am

Immigrant to America with my parents as a young adult. The biggest luck of my life.

Twins Fan
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Twins Fan » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:46 am

I found a dollar on the sidewalk one time. :happy

I don't feel like I've found this "bit of luck yet". More like kept finding set backs along the way. Maybe it's yet to come for some of us?

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:03 am

anonforthis wrote:Immigrant to America with my parents as a young adult. The biggest luck of my life.
I immigrated as a 7 year old, but I should have mentioned this also. My father, who was not reluctant to criticize this country for its failings, was the first in line to praise it for being the one country where he felt that as a penniless, 50 year old, non-English speaking immigrant, he could get a second chance. He scrubbed the stairs at night for a rent reduction in a tenement and then went to his day job, learned English, started his company, and made enough to fund a comfortable retirement after providing for his children. His children were never told that he didn't have a paid-for education, so that would be good enough for us too, and i think we made him proud of us.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

PittPharmboy
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by PittPharmboy » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:04 am

Marrying well.

We got married at 22 and were too young and naive to talk about finances before we got married. I was still in school at the time so we learned how to make do with very little. Ten years later, and we're in a much better place financially and both are comfortable living below our means because of our simple start.

Runner01
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Runner01 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:14 am

wanderlust14 wrote:While both personal choices (career path, spending habits, spouse selection) and behavioral factors (delaying gratification, risk tolerance) all affect one's personal finances, I think most would agree there is a bit of luck involved along the way. What was your luckiest moment?
1. Marrying someone who shares the same financial goals as me.
2. Abandoning the extreme American consumerism of my youth.

Though I guess neither are really based on "luck".

joebh
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by joebh » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:16 am

wanderlust14 wrote:What was your luckiest moment?
Being born at the right time, in the right part of the world where hard work made it possible to do the rest.

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Shackleton
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Shackleton » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:40 am

By far the biggest lucky break I had was when I was a week old -- I was adopted into a loving, well-off family that ultimately gave me the sort of life most people dream of. And the adoption was extremely lucky since my parents weren't looking to adopt another child at the time and a series of events (including relocating 4000 miles) led to my mother's doctor asking if she'd like to adopt a baby, pretty much out of the blue. The odds are (due to the location of my birth and the year) that I would have ended up in very different circumstances if I hadn't been adopted by my parents.
“Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results.” ~Ernest Shackleton

pencap75
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by pencap75 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:49 am

Having an ultra Boglehead father who saved up money so my college and med school were paid for, therefore I started out in life debt free which is a HUGE benefit.

NYC real estate has been kind to me as well.

gwrvmd
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by gwrvmd » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:02 am

In 1978 I bought a mutual fund from Vanguard. At the time most people didn't know what a mutual fund was and had never heard of Vanguard (which was only 3 years old at the time).
Part of the decision was analytical but most was probably pure luck.
I still own that mutual fund, Windsor, 37 years later

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carolinaman
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by carolinaman » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:09 am

The first 13 years of my career I was with a mega corp and extremely happy. I thought I would be there my entire career. They decided to relocate their IT data center to another part of the US. That seemed like terrible news at the time. I decided to leave the company and this proved to be the best long term move for my career and my finances. The company's relocation forced me out of my comfort zone and launched a 32 year IT management career.

BTW, the first company I was with went bankrupt about 10 years later.
Last edited by carolinaman on Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Will do good
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Will do good » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:10 am

furikake wrote:Biggest break was mega corp laid me off, so I got out of my shell and started my own business and luckily it took off.
A big +1

Andyrunner
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Andyrunner » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:16 am

1) college alumni offered me a job on the spot before a basketball game (first real job)
2) MBA classmate put in a good word for me with her boss for a job interview (now have an awesome pension and job security)
3) parents paid for college though I think I would have tried harder if I had more skin in the game
4) Financially frugal wife

nec
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by nec » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:31 am

Having parents who were bogleheads without knowing they were bogleheads. I have met people who were raised by savers and became spenders and others who were raised by spenders and became savers. It seems, however, that many people take on the financial trait of how they were raised (unless their spouse/significant other has a larger voice on the subject when they get together). Too may people have never learned that "want" and "need" are not synonyms....

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Levett » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:38 am

"I think most would agree there is a bit of luck involved along the way."

"A bit?" You're kidding, right?

If we are talking investments, it was the bull market (stocks and bonds) of 1982-2000.

Lev

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VictoriaF
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:38 am

Immigrating to the United States.

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Wagnerjb » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:43 am

I consider my biggest break to having been born with an above-average intelligence and above-average financial aptitude. This blessing was nurtured by my parents, through hard work, discipline, dedication and sacrifice...providing me the environment, the support and the values that I started with. From there, my own hard work, discipline, dedication and sacrifice took it the rest of the way. But I am tremendously blessed with the natural abilities that I was born with. I realize that others with lesser God-given gifts could not expect to achieve the level that I have achieved, even with similar amounts of hard work, discipline, etc.

Learning the financial strategies typical of a Boglehead at an early age was also very helpful to generate market returns, avoid big losses, keep costs down, save appropriately, manage income taxes, buy insurance as necessary, steer clear of psychological errors, etc.

Best wishes.
Andy

Miguelito
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Miguelito » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:44 am

None really, other than having jobs that pay well. We both had a lot of school debt, got all our jobs on merit and credentials alone (no connections of any kind), and lost on our first home (probably ~100k in the hole from that still).

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:44 am

I'm going to skip the platitudes about great parents who loved me, living in the United States, avoiding catastrophic health problems, etc - all true, but maybe not what the OP was looking for.

Some lucky breaks that come to mind:

- Reading in May 2006 that the income limit for Roth IRA conversions would be repealed in 2010. From that day both of us maxed out our non-deductible IRA contributions, meaning we had $46,000 in basis and $20,000 in gains by the time we converted in 2010. This opened up backdoor Roth IRAs for both of us, ad infinitum.

- Going to the cheapest good medical school I was admitted to. I chose a slighly lower ranked program rather than the higher ranked ones which cost 3-6x times as much, and graduated with only $7000 in total school debt. At the more expensive schools I might have graduated with $100,000 in debt.

- Driving past a gas station in Los Angeles in April 2002 when gas was selling for 85 cents per gallon. That was so insane I actually took a picture of the signboard. This was 7 months after 9/11. The market had rallied like crazy, oil prices were plummeting: and we were facing (what I thought would be) a generation(s) long war (or wars) in the Middle East. It made no sense. That week I invested substantially in David Tice's Prudent Bear Fund. I sold in the fall of 2008, approximately tripling my money. Not very Bogleheaded, but in my defense, I hadn't found Bogleheads yet.

- Deciding in May 2001, after a 20 year bear market, that gold was ridiculously underpriced compared to stocks (which I thought were still tremendously overvalued). I bought and tripled my total investment by the time I sold in 2008.

- Early on I tended to try various strategies on the margins - stock-picking, market-timing, etc - and the luck came when they ALL FAILED, relatively quickly.

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market timer
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by market timer » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:44 am

I have never really had any significant lucky breaks that were purely financial. My most meaningful breaks have been in academics, career, and marriage. Luckily, that has been enough.

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by MildlyEccentric » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:49 am

The first two companies I worked for out of college in the mid 70s were NCR and Logicon. I enrolled in their stock purchase plans and contributed the maximum amounts permitted. Both stocks performed very well and helped fund my early retirement. The only downside has been trying to keep track of all the spinoffs, buyouts and mergers, particularly for NCR which was bought by ATT. I suppose it's a good problem to have.

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TheTimeLord
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by TheTimeLord » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:54 am

Being offered and accepting a nice severance package from Megacorp and then receiving a call while I was sitting home doing nothing offering me a excellent 1099 gig. Not luck but having the opportunity open a Solo 401K as part of the whole 1099 experience has been a excellent benefit.
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:00 am

letsgobobby wrote:I'm going to skip the platitudes about great parents who loved me, living in the United States, avoiding catastrophic health problems, etc - all true, but maybe not what the OP was looking for.
If the OP is looking for rare luck, his luck will be quite different from ours. But apart from exceptional luck, if the OP is an American and has discovered this Forum he must acknowledge that he is already lucky.

Victoria
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:01 am

Going from making $45-50k a year from age 23-27 to $110+k/yr this past year.

Not only did that happen, but my expenses stayed at ~$20k/yr.

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by sesq » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:11 am

I put a market order in after hours to buy Tyco. In the overnight the fraud speculation came out and the share price went from like $40 to an open at $25, which is what I had bought at. By mid-day it had bounced back to $30. I was a lucky "genius". This luck reversed (and more) when I tried to catch some falling knives during the dotcom fiasco.

A much bigger lucky break was when I took a job at a semi-startup. The job gave me restricted stock a third of which vested immediately but had a lockup period. During the lockup they were bleeding cash at an insane rate, I got nervous and left the company to my current gig (been here 12 years, so that has worked too). Right around the time the lockup expired they got additional funding and the stock skyrocketed from about $0.50/sh to $2 a share. I cleared about $40k after taxes, and six months after my sale it was back down to the 50 cents a share.

I am happier now in index funds (except for company stock that is part of my pay).

mmcmonster
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by mmcmonster » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:12 am

In order of timing:
1 - Born to parents who could send me off to schooling and get out without loans
2 - Being (relatively) healthy
3 - Nudged by my parents to go into Medicine.
4 - Marrying my wife, who ended up being as frugal as I am.
5 - Landing a job which pays me extremely well for the work I do.
6 - Finding Bogleheads.org and an interest in reading personal finance books.

jodydavis
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by jodydavis » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:14 am

Being born in the U.S. during a time of relative peace, and into a stable, supportive (though modest) family situation that valued hard work and education.

stoptothink
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:25 am

Have to admit, this was a difficult one for me. I've had a few major financial setbacks in my young life and a few recent less major ones which emptied my EF just in time for Christmas (my 7-month old needing surgery, wife's car accident). What I can say is that I was provided many examples of what not to do with personal finances. My parents, my in-laws, my siblings, etc. - not a single one really has a penny to their name and basically works to fund the next toy/vacation. Because of our upbringings, my wife and I agreed to be different and prioritized saving and financial security, and we are well on our way to an early retirement regardless of what life throws at us. Hopefully we are providing our children an example of what to do.

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by jpelder » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:47 am

Having parents (and grandparents) who had the means and foresight to save money for my education, and getting a full scholarship for both bachelor's and master's degrees. I've been able to work at a job I (usually) love doing and not be worried about student loan payments. Not only that, but my wife was in a similar situation (smaller scholarship, but more college fund savings), so we started our marriage with a full 6-month emergency fund and half of a house downpayment already saved.

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by The Wizard » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:03 am

I'm not sure I had any lucky breaks on the early days.
It was just a matter of going to college, then getting a job with a decent retirement plan, then staying the course for forty years.
Pretty monotonous, actually.

But a nice recent lucky break is being old enough that I'm grandfathered into the previous SS law, so that I'm still allowed to claim Divorced Spouse Benefit at age 66 and postpone my own till age 70...
Attempted new signature...

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wanderlust14
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by wanderlust14 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:10 am

OP here. No doubt about it---as many others have pointed out, being born in the United States into an exceptional family of above average means was probably my biggest break. Otherwise, the biggest bit of luck came from rolling the dice and moving to Alaska (into a town I knew very little about) for a job opportunity. Although I saw potential in it, it could have turned out bad as well. So taking that plunge and having it work out was certainly lucky.

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neutics
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by neutics » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:15 am

My wife and I both joining the military for differing reasons.

West Point education for me (free), Optometry school covered for her, tax-free pay when deployed, access to TSP and cheap healthcare through Tricare, I used the GI Bill to pay for grad school and will pass the remainder on to my son, and we both will have decent pensions.

In short, yes there were sacrifices made but we both enjoyed our service. I can't overstate the value of finishing professional school debt free.

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Ice-9
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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by Ice-9 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:19 am

* Agree with all the previous mentions of finding Bogleheads (or "Diehards" as it was called back then) and related authors

* Also agree with previous posters' mentions of folks who taught them reasonable frugality, in my case my grandfather and a math teacher

* Grandfather's trust fund covered BA at in-state university, and the remainder went to 1.6% fixed rate I-Bonds to serve as part of emergency fund

* Waited to buy a house in 2010, several years after most of my friends, pretty close to what hopefully will have proved to be a low in house value, and well timed to refinance in 2011 and again in 2012 to a much lower rate

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Re: Biggest lucky break in your personal finances?

Post by zkzkzk » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:55 am

My lucky break didn't start out as such. I lost a job after being with the company for 23 years when they shut it down. At 40 years old I took a third shift job for $9/hr at a start up I didn't even know was a start up. I was given stock options that I figured would never be worth anything. 5 years later I became an instant member of the 2 comma club, at least before taxes anyway.

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