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July 14, 2011

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Interesting question. I would say, 1). Developing and utilizing a network within my profession, 2). Marrying my wife who looks at money the same way I do and 3). Starting a Financial Literacy course at the college I worked at, which forced me to learn the principles that I taught to our students.

For me it's simply:

Stating early!

For me it is:

1) Stumbled upon personal-finance blogs after I graduated from college.
2) Like Phil, started early.
3) Listen to my co-workers complain that they don't make enough, figuring out their spending habits and made sure I didn't make the same mistakes.

1) got top notch education which led to a top notch job
2) educated myself on personal finance and entrepreneurship
3) applied everything i learned - including side gigging which is predominantly why i am where i am much earlier in life

Here are mine.

1) Found Suze Orman two years before I got laid off and paid off all my debt except the house. It was so much easier getting through that period with no debt.
2) My wife is wonderful and we discuss our finances frequently.
3) We created a budget that works for us and it allows us to fund college and retirement.

1. Got born to clever, frugal, self-sufficient parents. Because of them, I did not get sucked into the bottomless pit of competitive consumerism, and I am confident do many things myself instead of paying others.

2. Junior college & CSU for undergrad. (non-Californians: the CSU schools are excellent & very affordable mid-tier, between UCs and above junior college). Then, consolidated business school loans at <2% interest.

3. Frugal social circle- non-smoking, home-cooking, minimal drinking, thrift-shopping. Camping instead of concerts, bbq instead of bars, hiking instead of high-end dining. (Single gal's equivalent of marrying a frugal man?)

3b. I have to add Mint.com in here. Despite their recent decline in quality after the Intuit acquisition, it has made budgeting, tracking, cutting expenses, etc such a piece of cake.

1 Learned to live very frugally.
2 Automated regular investments (401K, employee stock purchase, 529 contributions, etc)
3 Becoming interested in my finances - reading PF books and blogs so that I am aware of my options.

-Rick

1. Went to college and grad school, so I earn a very respectful salary.
2. Bought an apt. that will be paid for by the time I retire.
3. I spend less then I earn and I save regularly and often; I pay myself first.

I've made a lot of financial mistake, which would be just as easy to list.
On the positive side:
1. Started saving and investing at 23.
2. Bought a fixer upper house at 27 and the value has grown hugely.
3. Have a well paying job that I enjoy.

1. Living simply and frugally with thanks to my parents' example.
2. Shortly after I started my career I was able to meet my basic expenses. With each subsequent raise I would save the excess instead of needlessly increasing my cost of living.
3. Keeping my investments simple. I've never bought a loaded fund nor have I bought the hot investment of the month, and I stay in the market. I invest in my identified asset classes and proceed like a grinning, content tortoise.

1. Graduated, married my childhood sweetheart of the same mindset in 1956, emigrated from the UK the same year. Today is our 55th. wedding anniversary.

2. Obtained my MS in Engineering Mechanics in 1963.

3. After retiring on my 58th. birthday in September 1992 and rolling my 401K into an IRA at Fidelity Investments and consolidating every other account we owned at Fidelity I started taking an active role in managing our money. I was very intrigued with an advertisment in Investor's Business Daily describing a proprietary mutual fund database that was updated daily (by Dial Up) and that also had some interesting analytical methods for switching between mutual funds based upon their relative strength. In January 1993 I started my subscription to the service and use it minimally to this day (even though I have been primarily only in bonds and CDs since late 2007). What I hadn't realized was that there was also a group of over 300 fellow subscribers getting together on a Bulletin Board and sharing their knowledge and experiences. The BB was something like this blog except we didn't use pseudonyms and got to know each other very well and naturally the only topic discussed was how to use the database and software to the greatest advantage. The owner of the company was also willing to make the database format available to 3rd. party users like myself that were very experienced computer programmers and we started producing small computer modules to perform new analyses which we shared freely between us all. We were thus pooling the combined talents and experience of 300+ experienced, like-minded investors with the single goal of making a lot of money using mutual funds. Three or four of us took leading roles and started putting software together, collaborating on improving our methods of fund selection and switching between funds.

These were the early days of the Internet when it didn't look anything like it does to day. In those days I couldn't use my very slow computer with a slow Dial-Up modem to surf the web, it was used to update my database every evening, communicate with the other users by means of the BB, write software, and use e-mail to share computer code modules between us. We had no idea that the Internet would become the greatest innovation of the last 100 years, would change the world in such a profound way, but it did. It spawned the DOT.COM bubble which sent the Nasdaq Composite and the Nasdaq 100 off on a meteoric upwards ride. In the 7 year period between 2/1/1993 and 3/9/2000 the Nasdaq 100 went from 375 to 4,586 and our portfolio went from $340K to $3.37M. That was a far different story from the Lost Decade that followed for the majority of investors.

I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right interests, the right skills, and retired. In March 2000 I also had the knowledge to know when it was time to bail out or switch into different market sectors.

1. Landing a job at a new company and growing along with it.
2. Marrying my wife who thinks about money same as I do and is now receiving a nice guaranteed monthly pension from Uncle Sam (wait, did I actually say "guaranteed"?. That's called "marrying smart" but we have lots of fun too.
3. Participating in 401(k) and Stock Options programs early even though I didn't think I copuld afford it (I had to be pressured by an older friend). By starting early and intelligently selling off some stock to buy even more shares along the way (and the wonderful compounding), I have done pretty well if I do say so myself.
4. (if I am allowed 4) I got rid of all debt as quickly as possible.

1. Married my wife who is a great budgeter and companion in this journey
2. Graduated with a computer science degree and have been steadily employed with a great salary since then (praise God!)
3. Took the Financial Peace University class offered by Dave Ramsey three years ago.

Happy anniversary, Old Limey!!!

@JimL
Thanks very much! It's nice when you can be in a longterm relationship and have no regrets whatsoever. I consider myself a very lucky man.
One daughter is on her 3rd. husband, the other daughter filed for divorce after 18 years but is soon to move in with a great guy that has our complete stamp of approval. My son has been married for 13 years and has a 11 year old daughter after finally sowing all of his wild oats that included being the leader of a heavy metal rock & roll band until he came to his senses.

Limey, congrats! My wife and I just celebrated our 9th yesterday.

As for financial moves:

1) lived frugally during grad school, enough that we could save money almost every month
2) kept spending at near grad school levels when salary went up 5-fold; saved the difference
3) hoarded cash during the growing bubble (due to a realization that real estate was overpriced) and then bought into the stock market within two weeks of the bottom (thanks FMF readers!)

Old Limey,

My wife and I are "only" on year 26. I am hoping to reach your level (provided the cancer doesn't come back). Both of our parents have been married for over 50 years, but most other family members have had some history of divorce.

Going to grad school to get an MBA, and saving money when I had opportunities, were the best moves I've made. Actually listening to my wise father was another good move.

1. Marring my wife who I did not know how frugal she was
2. Starting early on my financial education but not enough on the savings
3. Not listening to the heard after being burned in the dot.com bust and following my instincts after that.

1. Getting a BS and MS in engineering
2. Marrying a woman with like minded senses on frugal money management
3. Starting a side business which created an income greater than my day job

Sorry but here's one more...

4. Having no debt and saving 20% of our income

I am a single guy, just turning 27 tomorrow. For me, it has been working a full time job, and opperating a specialty business on the side. This has allowed me to focus 100% on working towards my goal of quickly becoming debt free, saving money to get into a 10-15 year mortgage (at most!) when I purchase my first house, and hopefully save up money for other investment.

1. Learning God's plan for managing money from Scripture and great parents.
2. Marrying a wonderful woman who also follows His plan.
3. Obtaining an MBA.

1. 1965 I married a good woman from a good working family. Her parents taught her about saving and about owning own a house, free and clear.
2.We took my employer's job (TWA) in Saudi Arabia for three years. Good pay, no rent, no IRS tax. OK, able to buy houses on return. Then got job with big electronics company, "M". Free car, travel, 29 years later I retired.
3. With a little inheritance to each of us,less than $1.1 mil total, we have about $6.2 mil in assets in our retirement. At age 73 it should hold us, though I know for sure that Medicare will help us less in the future versus what we paid into it since it started charging us 1964.
Within a year of being married, we visited the Taj Mahal, at Agra, India in 1966 and a lot of other places since then, on all Continents, except Antarctica. I have been to Greenland though, which is similar, a lot of ice but no penguins. 7-15-2011

1. Investing some inheritance in an RRSP in money market funds, leaving me with a decent down payment for a house.

2. Reading PF blogs like a hardcore money nerd until I felt confident in the subject.

3. Quitting weed. Probably the best long-term thing I ever did for my life and my money.

1) Followed Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and paid off all our debt and both of our houses by 35 years old.
2) Invest, Invest, Invest.
3) Don't smoke or drink alcohol or coffee. All massive cash sinks.

1. told the too big to fail bank I dealt with to shove it by declaring bankruptcy.
2. convert savings to physical silver in my possession
3. incorporated thus lowering tax bill

finances is the new war zone of the 21st century. no prisoners.

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