Early Retirement – How We Did it

You can call it an early retirement or you could call it living an unconventional lifestyle. In either instance, we are talking about leaving the 9-5 job and the pay check that comes with it.

At some pointing your life you will stop working, either by choice or by force. For me, I could not bear to think I was going to be working one day and dead the next. I wanted more of something in between. In fact, I wanted the MOST I could put between those two events. This is what I did.

Vision

I started by developing a simple vision asking these types of questions:

  1. How much living space do Kris and I really need?
  2. What sort of weather do we enjoy?
  3. What “tangible things” MUST we have in our life?
  4. What are our medical considerations?
  5. What types of food do we need?
  6. What types of activity do we enjoy?

I wrote it down and developed the vision slowly, building from our basic needs and slowly expanded that list.

Dream

Then we started dreaming a little.

  1. What activity, event or learning would enhance our life? Some people call this their bucket list. We kept it simple and limited to the 10 things most important.

Analyze

Next I analyzed our finances.

  1. How much equity do we have in our real estate?
  2. How much equity do we have in other assets such as cars, boats, etc.?
  3. How much do we have in our retirement savings?
  4. How much debt must be paid off to reach a “base of existence”?

It was easy to see that we were spending money each month without much thought or without considering a real purpose other than our whims.

We had a fair amount of equity in two houses, 3 cars, a boat and other things. We also had good credit.

When we pared down everything and focused on just what we had to have and what it cost per month, the list looked like this:

  1. Food $800
  2. Housing $1,200
  3. Utilities $300 (cell phone, internet, electric, water, sewer)
  4. Transportation $750 (car payment, insurance, fuel)
  5. Medical insurance $500

Everything above this $3,550 was optional. This means in addition to what we were already saving, we could save even more money before “pulling the plug”.

Calculate

The banker/accountant in me comes out and I design a spread sheet that depicts what our accounts would look like if all our assets were “liquid” or in cash.

Next we considered what income we have or could have while living this lifestyle. For us, Kris is drawing SSI retirement and I can earn some money each month trading stock or working a part-time job. Plus in a few years I would be eligible to draw SSI each month.

Example:

If we need $3,550 each month but have $2,100 now and will have $3,900 when I hit 62.5 years old, how long will our savings last? The math showed that if I stop working at age 58, for the first few years, we would take $1,450 from our savings each month. Then after I reach SSI age, we could stop drawing down our savings. What was left in our saving at that point would be our “nest egg”.

Budget and get creative

Finally, look for more ways to earn money and to save money. For us we decided to work camp for 6-8 months each year which saves/earns us about $800 per month or more. We also have a budget that we watch closely. We manage our budget but we don’t allow it to limit what we do. For each of the past 3 years we have been within $50 per month on average when we reach the end of the year.

If you need help with your plan, send me an email. I am happy to act as a sounding board and I may have a few ideas to help you reach your goals.

mark@competentrver.com