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Is ignorance bliss?

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  • Is ignorance bliss?

    I sometimes reflect on how my life would be different if I did not catch the personal finance bug.  I would likely be spending more money and saving a lot less.

     

    Would I have found ways to spend the extra?  Would that have made me happier?  Does anyone else ponder these things?

     

    I am sure there are a lot of high income professionals out there who just max a 401k. But with a decent match you would be putting away 2k a year for a 35 year career and end up with ~2M pretax.  Plus home equity and SS could lead to a comfortable retirement.  Especially if you do not know what you are missing.

  • #2
    The grasshoppers tend to be happier than the ants (until winter comes).

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    • #3
      just got new computer hardware......soooooo......yay happiness.

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      • #4
        The majority of people on this forum will die with a sizable amount left over.  That's the (sad) reality.  Life is all about balance.  We try to spend lavishly on experiences and travel.  Those make us happy.  Material items much less so.

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        • #5
          I imagine many of the spendthrifts will be unhappy with their retirement lifestyle on $80k/year from $2M in savings. It will be a step down for them, not even taking into account the devaluation of that money over time.

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          • #6
            I think about this a ton.

            I wasn't profligate before learning about WCI but I also wasn't extremely frugal. I certainly picked one of the most expensive med schools in USA w/o much of a second thought.

            I think if I hadn't found WCI I would be doing ok but not great. Probably not worth nearly as much, probably in a bigger house, def driving a much nicer car on a payment. Honestly I think the WCI lesson that will echo over my life and that of my kids is 20% saving for retirement. I've been doing that for 7.5 years now and we added my wife to that as soon as she finished residency. I mean, that's some real cash at this point, like a point at which most people would say they had it made.

            I do think ignorance is bliss though. I see people who make less than half what I do living very high on the hog, late model cars, beautifully appointed homes etc and if they are stressed I sure can't tell.

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            • #7


              The grasshoppers tend to be happier than the ants (until winter comes).
              Click to expand...


              This is basically why I think I am right for caring about this now and being prepared.


              The majority of people on this forum will die with a sizable amount left over.  That’s the (sad) reality.  Life is all about balance.  We try to spend lavishly on experiences and travel.  Those make us happy.  Material items much less so.
              Click to expand...


              True.  If I work a full career and do not increase my spending I will have a ton extra.  Good problem to have.  Retiring early would be a solution but I do not see myself doing that.  Part time might be intriguing but not for another 15-20 years.


              I imagine many of the spendthrifts will be unhappy with their retirement lifestyle on $80k/year from $2M in savings.
              Click to expand...


              True.  If I did not save so much and spent more then I would need more to maintain my elevated standard of living in retirement.  Which would force one to work longer then they may want.


              I think the WCI lesson that will echo over my life and that of my kids is 20% saving for retirement.
              Click to expand...


              Very good point.  I am glad I was only a few years into my career when I found WCI but being able to get my kids on the right track early is a huge benefit.


              I do think ignorance is bliss though. I see people who make less than half what I do living very high on the hog, late model cars, beautifully appointed homes etc and if they are stressed I sure can’t tell.
              Click to expand...


              Exactly.  I guess they will figure out their folly at some point but 30-40 years of living it up does sound nice.

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              • #8
                Unlike what I assume to be the average physician's upbringing I wasn't fortunate enough to have been born into an affluent family so being frugal was more a matter of survival than choice. It has always been my goal to work smarter, not harder and I am now what I consider to be financially comfortable. I can justify spending on things that bring me joy like nice restaurants and travel. While I envy the blissfully ignorant who make far less and have way better stuff than I do that wasn't ever an option for me based as much on my lot in life as on my temperament. I came to WCI with the blocks and I'm learning how to position them more strategically.

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                • #9
                  I caught the PF bug right out of training (but not before I purchased a European luxury car, on credit, before receiving my first attending paycheck ). Since then, my PF discipline has waxed and waned over time, but I nonetheless feel that, late in my career, my PF goals have been largely achieved.

                  Once you have access to a certain body of knowledge, philosophy and experience, it is impossible to "unknow" it.

                  Last week when I was out of town orienting for my new position, my old buddy (and now my boss) picked me up in a gorgeous, leased Audi convertible. I enjoyed the ride on a pleasant evening with the top down as he showed me around town, eventually taking me to his home in a very fashionable part of the HCOL city (where NFL players and titans of business and technology lived) and described his plans to demolish a multimillion dollar house and rebuild one on the same site.

                  I have no idea how he intends to pay for it. Perhaps his family has been considerably more financially successful than mine. Maybe his wife inherited a lot of money. Maybe he won the lottery. Maybe he will write a check for the whole project and not think twice about it. I have no idea, and it is none of my business.

                  What I do know is that for me "bliss" might be define by not having to deal with the planning and logistics of moving out, demolishing my primary home, and rebuilding on the same site. In fact, that scenario sounds to be the opposite of bliss, which might be dubbed "misery". Bliss, in this context as defined by me, is the ability for me to call my shots, and getting to that point was not made possible by ignorance.

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                  • #10


                    Does anyone else ponder these things?
                    Click to expand...


                    Not for myself, but for a particular couple whom I analyzed a PFS (Personal Financial Statement) many moons ago.  The loan was basically a personal loan to individuals guaranteed by a business.  Anyway, the business was a well-known large local Chicago law firm with good CF, but the PFS.....  A couple, both partners in said law firm, collectively earning the equivalent of $1 million per annum.  They had a credit score of like 500, virtually no retirement savings, didn't own a home (rented a crazy nice place on Michigan Ave just north of Oak Street Beach), had a number of maxed out CC including store cards.  It was really sad, and this from the mid-20's me who was making $24K/year and happy to have $20 for a saturday night out with my friends.

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                    • #11
                      Probably if I had not come across the concept of investment via index funds, I would not be investing at all. Any time I have to pick and choose it seems too much like gambling, but putting money in the market via index funds is a set-and-forget maneuver which I have no problem with.

                      I would still be saving, and I do not think I would have a more expensive home or car, because I already had convictions about the necessity of moderation.

                      I will never believe in deliverance via wealth and comfort, so aside from the logistics there is not much that changed.

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                      • #12
                        Ignorance is bliss until my partners realize that I am working 33% less than them (soon to be 50% less), take a month off every year, still seem to have nice toys/experiences, am pondering when to take a year off, and am further pondering whether to even plan on returning after that year off.

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                        • #13


                          Would that have made me happier?
                          Click to expand...


                          I had so much fun in my youth on nothing more than pocket change. I would have been significantly happier without call, but more spending wouldn't have made much difference.


                          Does anyone else ponder these things?
                          Click to expand...


                          The idea that we'd be happier if only we spent more money is a recurring topic on this forum. I just don't get it.

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                          • #14
                            I don't know. I've never been a spender, I have always hated debt and like saving for the future. I wasn't ever saved by this website, just found a group of like minded people. I don't even know what I would spend more money on, this year we are set to make twice as much as I ever imagined, so we are just throwing all the extra into a taxable account.

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                            • #15
                              "Delay gratification" and "Compound interests" are the 2 most important financial concepts for me.

                              As high income professionals, it should not take more than 15 yrs of self discipline to get financial problems out of our lives.

                              After that, we will have 20+ yrs to live the way we want, sponsored by "Compound interests" with little taxes.

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