Retiring Early

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who am I and how did I get here?

Getting back to the point of the blog, I guess it makes sense to take a step back and spend some time discussing how I got to where I am today, then discussing my goals for the immediate and long term. And since I tend to read a lot about this topic, I'm sure I'll post about related topics that I find interesting, but generally in the direction of retirement, investing, personal finance, LBYM, or the like.

Let me start with my background and a quick summary on how I got to my current "retirement readiness" (ie. net worth).

I grew up in a middle class family with 5 children. I worked my way though public school and finally made my way to a Big-10 University, where I paid my way through the engineering program with a number of side jobs. In 1995, after college, I made $35,000/yr slaving away at a Big-6 (now Big-4) management consulting company. After only a few years and lots of travel (sound familiar to anyone?), I moved on to a high tech company, where I have worked for the past 9 years. I am reasonably well paid now and have had access to small amounts of profit sharing and stock options (although, these options have not contributed as much to my net worth as most people think.)

I am married with no kids, and no plans for kids. Both my wife and I drive used cars between 9 and 11 years old each. Cars and other depreciating assets are obviously are not important to us. (see book 2 below)

I purchased my first condo at age 23 for $67,000 and after 11 years and moving three more times, my current home that is worth over a half million dollars. I was lucky to have started early and rolled equity and appreciation into subsequent houses. I contemplated landlording a few times, and only wound up renting one condo for a year. Each other time, I decided that it wasn't the best option for me.

To be fair, I have also made a number of mistakes over the years. I've taken loans against my 401(k), I've had over $12,000 in credit card debt while living paycheck to paycheck, I've purchased overly expensive cars, I've not contributed to retirement accounts and I got caught up in the internet bubble and day trading (and lost money in both cases). I've learned a number of lessons -- all learned the hard way.

I was lucky to have mentors that helped show me the way. In particular, I was shown the way through books. Had someone tried to instill these lessons in me, I guarantee I would not have listened. The following three books that have had the largest impact on my current view of retirement, money, and investing:
  1. How to Retire Early and Live Well
  2. The Millionaire Next Door
  3. Smart Couples Finish Rich
Well, there you have it. This is a pretty good summary as of August 2006.

In subsequent posts, I'll dive down into certain parts of my past and dissect how I really got here. The most important points of discussion will be around those handful of decisions that I made over time that changed the course of my life forever. Some call these decisions "life inflection points". I believe the choices you make at these critical junctures can significantly impact your future successes and are worth understanding.


  • At 8/25/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger mOOm said…

    Thanks! Have always thought to do a life history/journey on my blog but never got around to doing it.

  • At 8/25/2006 10:36 AM, Blogger fin_indie said…

    It's interesting when you look back and try to catalog all of the different things that you've done that make you, you today. I'm actually a little shocked at how far I've come and I'm sure I'll learn more about myself over time.

  • At 1/10/2007 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    On books, I was started on the investment path by my father, who after making good money in real estate in the 70's and early 80's switched his investments to 'the stock market'.
    When I graduated college, the same year as my brother and 2 cousins, my father gave us each a copy of
    I have since purchased many copies of this book (some, appropriately, at used book stores), and given it to young people I care about.
    This book changed my life, and it's such as short, easy read, I recommend it as the FIRST book anyone ever reads after they get their first job/paycheck.
    There are others, and your suggestions are great. I particularly like Millionaire Next Door. I've read Women Millionaire Next Door (or similar title) and was not QUITE as impressed.
    Happy saving, fruitful investing!

  • At 3/03/2007 1:39 PM, Anonymous NetWorth said…

    I enjoyed reading this post about your past and what brought you to this point. I'm anxious to "catch up" on all the latest posts, but wanted to slow down for a second and leave a comment for this great, well-thoughtout post. Keep up the good work!!!



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