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Everything posted by EdLaFave

  1. https://educatorsfightingforfairness.wordpress.com/ I don’t do much to advertise. I rarely post on Facebook and Twitter. My site is indexed by the search engines. Almost all of my traffic comes from links I post on Bogleheads and here.
  2. In most cases, nothing is stopping the individual teacher from investing in low cost funds in their 403b/457b. I got Vanguard and Fidelity added to our vendor list and lots of other districts have one of the top 5 vendors or a quality state sponsored 457b on their list already. The obstacle here is getting the individual to care. A legislative solution for the collective has a lot of obstacles. Moe, I encourage you to get to work! I think Steve is right about the value of face-to-face organizing/communicating. I’m a software engineer and not being able to do that the way a teacher can is my biggest roadblock.
  3. My spreadsheet takes into account the tax advantages of a Roth account, which provides year over year tax free growth. Although I have always advocated for Traditional over Roth, I’ve heard many (including posters on this board) tell people to invest in a Roth instead of a Traditional. I view this decision to be an optimization, but I agree with what seems to be the general sentiment in this thread that Traditional is superior to Roth. I did not model a Traditional account for the same reason I didn’t model a taxable account: the calculations would have been far more complex and the spreadsheet already took a bit of time to create. ...I encourage anybody to model the effects of using a Traditional account. More than that, I encourage you to model the effects of using a taxable account when you surpass the Traditional limits. ...I also gave the hypothetical investor the advantage of investing in funds that charge 0% expense ratios. I really tried to give the hypothetical investor lots of tailwinds with my model...I just refused to do that when it added complexity to the model.
  4. Your $19,000 1984 salary was worth $38,882.95 in 2008 dollars. So in 24 years your real salary more than doubled...congrats! Even with an infinite number of years, that is impossible for teachers in Florida. I can't remember the exact figures, but I think Floridian teachers have gotten crazy low maybe even 0% nominal increases for years.
  5. You probably looked at the spreadsheet after I increased growth to 4.5% and increased starting salary to 40k. Yup. I generally tried to make optimistic assumptions for this hypothetical person. No state taxes. No health issues. No entertainment expenses. No vacations. No children. Although I did make one pessimistic assumption, no spouse or roommates to offset the biggest cost which is housing. Feel free to copy the google spreadsheet and play with your own assumptions if you want.
  6. Remember, I'm using real dollars so the number of years I'm projecting into the future doesn't affect the validity of my calculations. If you say the salary is too low, I updated it to the 40k-74k range that OCPS uses and it still takes 40 years to reach millionaire status. If you say the investment returns are too low, I changed it from 3% to 4.5%...and after having increased the salary, it still takes 35 years to reach millionaire status. Historically stocks have a real return of 7% and I'm not entirely sure what it is for bonds, probably around 2%. I'm not willing to go any higher than 4.5% real returns because I've talked to lots of folks (you and Tony for instance) and people seem to need conservative portfolios to stop themselves from "buying high and selling low". The original post was about all workers, not just teachers. The US Bureau of the Census has the individual median income at $31,099...which is WAY less than starting at $40,000 with a 1% real raise every year. The numbers suggest that even with IDEAL spending habits, the millionaire label is impossible for a HUGE percentage of people. If you're suggesting you call yourself a millionaire based on the future growth that you hope arrives, then you aren't a millionaire. If you're saying you have a million in assets before taxation then it is reasonable enough to say you're a millionaire (at least hoping you do things in a tax efficient way).
  7. All right, I'm sure everybody was on pins and needles, you can view my spreadsheet here. The end result is that my hypothetical teacher has to work a full 48 years before achieving millionaire status. A few notes on those calculations: It assumes every dollar is invested in a Roth account. It assumes they remain single, healthy, roommate-less, and child-less. It assumes yearly expenses of $26,058.50 (rent, utilities, transportation, food, clothes, cell phone, and a $250/monthly misc budget). It assumes a real investment return of 3%. It assumes the tax code is adjusted for inflation each year. It assumes they begin at $35,000 and receive a 1% real raise per year. It assumes there aren't any forced contributions to a pension and just routes that money to the Roth account. All of the calculations are done in real dollars because a million nominal dollars in 50 years isn't meaningful. I can modify any of the parameters in the spreadsheet if anybody is curious what affect that would have. I think this makes it clear that a huge percentage of Americans will never become millionaires because this hypothetical person didn't spend their money foolishly and a large percentage of people don't make as much as this hypothetical person.
  8. I’m not kidding... You tell me where the rally is and I’ll bring my pitchfork ✊ Later today I am going to roughly quantify what it takes to become a millionaire so we are no longer speaking in the abstract.
  9. I do think you can tell a comeplling story though... Teachers (almost everybody likes them) are paid so litttle to education our children (our future), they have to buy supplies for the kids, they have to take their work home with them each night...and to thank them for their service we’re letting Wall Street types stroll into the schools and sign teachers up for retirement plans that rob them of up to 100% of real returns. So once the teachers hit retirement age they have little to show for it. ...I think that is a sympathetic story.
  10. I encourage you to try to build a group of teachers to push for reform. But this is what my experience has taught me... The vast majority of teachers will not take a single step to help themselves much less to reform the system to help everybody else. They were happy to provide encouragement (presumably genuine), but not action. Almost everybody that I was able to help found me through my website. However, none of the folks nearby were willing to go beyond fixing their individual situation. The real solution is to get the government to pass legislation that replaces the current 403b/457b with the TSP (or TSP-like system) and to auto-enroll teachers into a target date fund. Otherwise you have to fix the issue at every single district. It would be great if you could get teachers’ unions to back this effort, but my experience there has been pretty dismal. On the other side of the coin, perhaps if I were a teacher and therefore able to pitch more teachers then I would have found more people willing to help. Also, I don’t think you need many people to trigger reform. I got Vanguard and Fidelity added to OCPS (FL) all by myself. However, my prediction is that this problem will continue until one of two things happens: 1) The people being exploíted begin to care about their own exploítation...maybe you can help with that. 2) A group of politicians decide it is politically beneficial to be seen as supporting teachers and they reform the system with the stroke of a pen. ...as things stand right now teachers are happy to be a part of this system.
  11. In my opinion, as long as you’ve taken the time to really listen then you can absolutely say you understand (despite not living it yourself). I really relate to your brother’s story because it was my wife who first suggested I might be autistic after she worked with several autistic kids at school. It was one of the best days of my life because it explained so much of my life and I was surprised by how nice it felt to not be alone (I’ve always felt like an alien born into human society). How did your brother respond to hearing this so late in life? I ask because people have asked me how they should “break the news” or if I was angry when my wife suggested this possibility. I was/am puzzled by the underlying premise because it fails to understand just how much my wife unburdened me and how I immediately found her suspicion to be both fascinating and entirely logical.
  12. With respect to your brother, I’ve got so much empathy for mental health issues. Any other part of your body is just a tool, but your mind is who you are. It seems we understand so very little about the brain. It just feels like we’re living in the dark ages and some day people will look back on our (lack of) treatments the way we look back at Europeans bleeding themselves to release bad humors (not to say we don’t have any effective mental health treatments because we do).
  13. My particular degree of autism is a gift because I function at an extremely high level. No suffering at all. If I’m honest, I think “normal” people are at a net-deficit and I’ve studied you guys my whole life because I think you’re the weird ones 😀 Loud noises and some textures bother me, but not to the degree that I can’t manage without most people noticing. Sometimes my unfiltered honesty/bluntness, tendency to ignore “useless” social conventions, and my less than perfect ability to read nonverbal communication has combined to cause ocassional and minor issues. Other than that everything else has been either benign or helpful. Most people think I have a quirk or two and will often assume I’m kidding if I tell them I’m on the spectrum. ...quick side note, I almost wanted to cry when I watched Netflix’s show Atypical. I related to the main character so much and to see that on screen was wonderful. Multiple times per episode my wife looks at me and basically says, “that’s you!” Your brother’s story is crazy sad. I’m sorry to read that.
  14. Not exactly. I don’t want anybody to use my experience to promote a pernicious falsehood. I argue that our economy guarantees a large portion of society will never make enough money to FIRE. Not only that, it forces tens of millions of people into a level poverty so severe that they can’t afford basic human necessities. Imagine every low wage worker going to school and entering the high wage fields. I contend that we’d all lose our bargaining power because the economy rewards workers based on how rare their skill set is instead of the profit workers’ labor generates...which the company insists they fully own. I believe our economy is structured in a way that guarantees lots of people won’t earn enough to FIRE no matter what we collectively do, which is why I say this is a math problem. So if the economic structure guarantees a collective failure, what about the individual? I argue THE reason certain skill sets are scarce is because a lot of people simply aren’t capable and/or are structurally denied access to these positions. Although, every individual isn’t denied access, lots are and to claim that they can FIRE requires you to both ignore math and be blind to the barriers in place. This is to say nothing of the systematic crushing of organized labor and the slide into corporate monopolies, which if taken to its logical conclusion can force even workers with scarce skill sets into lower wages. As far as me, I don’t want anybody to think my end result is based on dedication, perseverance, hard work, or any of that. I’ve worked every type of job along the way and the amount of grit and hard work required of me and my coworkers was always INVERSELY related to our compensation. My end result is because somebody told me what degree to get and I blindly followed that advice into a high wage job that few are capable of doing. I have autism, I’m highly functioning, my IQ is high, and several autistic traits are ideal for software engineering (being extremely literal, enjoying clearly defined rules, being very detailed oriented, etc). So the biggest factor in my success was pure luck. Yes I worked hard, but I’ve known too many low wage workers who work way harder and go through much worse (and do it with a better attitude) to believe I somehow earned it more than they have...or to think my current self is somehow more worthy than my lower paid younger self. I’m just lucky enough to have a high aptitude for a scarce skill set that somebody else pushed me to utilize in an economically profitable way...plus I’ve never been discriminated against in any way.
  15. I’d prefer that my experiences offer only slightly more hope than the story of a lottery winner. Have you seen these stories of GoFund me pages that pay for life/death medical treatments? They’re actually calls to action and not heartwarming tales of hope because multitudes of people never get the happy ending. Nobody should point to me and think, “he is evidence that anybody can FIRE.”
  16. I love FIRE. Materialism brings me great discomfort and American work culture repulses me. I remember asking friends in college to sneak food out of the meal plan because I couldn’t afford to eat and despite always being skinny I lost 20ish pounds during the back half of my freshman year. I remember considering becoming homeless during college...could I clean up at the school gym, could I loiter on campus in the AC with bathrooms, could I keep my clothes and toothbrush in my car, was this viable? I remember watching my dad, who worked two jobs, cry when he filed for bankruptcy. I remember crying tears of pure frustration and rage when I couldn’t afford to have a cavity filled. I remember the irritation I felt when I learned that hard work isn’t financially rewarded and is often exploíted instead. My mom worked a job that brought her misery until she died in her 50s with virtually nothing to show for it. None of this “made me stronger,” it left scars and I’m always going to reject lies like “everybody can FIRE” because it’s out of step with reality and it’s damaging to people who are truly trapped in struggle. Have I said how much I love FIRE and how lucky I am to never have to experience any of that again? I wish everybody could be so lucky; they can’t.
  17. I am those young people. You're still not listening.
  18. Whatever you think I’ve said, I haven’t said.
  19. Math isn’t positive or negative. I’m just reporting the numbers, which you perceive negatively because you wish the numbers painted a different picture. The numerical analysis is what it is. How you feel about it is up to you, but I’m just reporting the result.
  20. You’re being intentionally dense by equating me saying most people don’t earn/have enough to FIRE with Suzi who says you need 10 million to even consider FIRE. I haven’t called FIREing delusional. I’m literally doing it myself. I’ve called your claim that anybody can FIRE delusional. Math is never besides the point. You’re not listening.
  21. Suzi is shockingly incorrect. This absolutely is a math problem. I haven’t said FIRE shouldn’t be done. I’m literally working on FIRE for myself. I said the majority of people don’t have/earn enough to safely retire early. That is an inescapable mathematical reality. Positivity that isn’t grounded in reality is dangerous, just as any delusion is.
  22. This is untrue as proven by mathematical analysis. At best statements like this provide false hope, at worst they lead people into an early retirement that their portfolio can’t sustain. A small percentage of this nation earns/has enough to retire early in the way most would define the term and certainly the way some FIRE folks present it (i.e. retiring at 50 doesn’t count, having to work after you “retire” doesn’t count, etc). I know most can’t do it no matter how frugal they are because I’m part of that lucky group who can, I’ve seen the income distribution in this nation, and I’ve done the math.
  23. In my view it matters because... The wealthy have a long history of creating and perpetuating the (false) narrative that a person’s character determines their level of success. This means that the wealthy/powerful aren’t inclined to address structural issues in our economy because anybody struggling “deserves” to struggle. It also means they segregate themselves from these “inferior” people, which is bad for everybody. Interestingly this narrative is often internalized by those struggling, leading to a sense of inferiority and shame, which also prevents them from pushing to address the structural issues. So if FIRE folks are incorrectly claiming that anybody can FIRE if they just stop their indulgent behavior, then they’re contributing to that culture.
  24. I love the fire movement, but people safely retiring in their thirties (and many in their forties) were either born rich or are making obscene amounts of money. The math behind that is inescapable.
  25. I don’t follow the individual people who FIRE or how they tell their stories. However, anybody who starts their analysis with the math should clearly understand that you need to earn massive sums of money and/or receive an inheritance. There is absolutely no way around that. I hit the FI part but haven’t chosen to RE yet. I grew up in a family/community where college wasn’t optional and my dad told me to get a Computer Science degree so that’s what I did without even knowing what it was or how much income it generated. When I was in school I vaguely heard how India was going to decimate my field with cheap labor, that ultimately didn’t happen but it could have I suppose. In my career I’ve had a couple connections that led to faster/larger raises. I also graduated at just the right time to prevent me from buying a house at the peak, instead I bought at the trough. So I got lucky and I’m now able to save roughly 100k/year plus whatever my spouse saves. My perception of my spending was in the right ball park, but when I began tracking my spending I realized that I’m not exactly the minimalist I thought I was and I realized that even fewer people were FIRE candidates than I originally thought. I think it is easy to live in your own bubble without a lot of reflection and mathematical analysis, so your assessment definitely rings true to me.
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