Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Early Retirement Planning

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to retire when I was 50. At the time, I was divorced with two kids still at home. I had some money from my divorce, but I would have to be careful or it could easily be gone before I reached 50.  I had a house with a lot of mortgage and an interest rate over 10%.  I had a nearly new TransAm - fun to drive but not very practical. I started do some serious planning and budgeting.  This is what worked for me then and is still working now...
  • No debt allowed.  I have one credit card, mostly for emergencies.  As soon as I use it though, I immediately go online and transfer the money from my checking account.  I never carry a balance and so never pay any interest. 
  • I learned the difference between a want and a need.  A fancy cable TV package was a want. I needed a computer and internet service, though, especially because of the kids. Fancy cell phones are fun but cheap ones work, too.  Do you want toys or do you want to retire early?
  • I refinanced my house as soon as the interest rate went down, and then sold it eight years later and used the equity to buy in a less-expensive area for cash.  No more mortgage!
  • The TransAm had to go.  I bought a less-fun, more-practical minivan, again paying cash.  A car is so much cheaper without finance charges!  That minivan served me very well for the next 10 years. Do you want a new car every couple of years or do you want to retire early?
  • Avoid medical bills by living a healthy lifestyle.  Most disease is caused by how we treat our bodies. The huge majority of it is preventable. We really need to get more exercise but who needs the expense of a gym?  Walk, run, yoga, pilates, push-ups - it's all free!
  • And eating at home is much cheaper and can be much healthier than eating out.  Don't even think of wasting your money or your health at the fast-food places!  Shop around the edges of the grocery store, where all the healthy food is. Cooking can be an adventure that the whole family can enjoy!
  • Your local library is a wonderful resource - and it's all free!  Books, videos, music and, if you don't have a computer at home, most have one you can use.
I just turned 60 and I've been retired for ten years. I live an amazing, full, happy life on less than $15,000 a year. I travel every year. This year, it was four weeks in Italy, one in Croatia, and another couple of weeks in the states. I hope you'll come back to find out more.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, so nice to "meet" a like-minded retiree! Thanks for all your great comments on my blog. Keep up the blogging, we need some more voices encouraging people to go ahead and live the life they really want.

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  2. And thank you for giving me the push I needed to start writing. I have a huge list of ideas but couldn't seem to make myself write that first post. Finding your blog the other day helped. Now I'm reading yours from the beginning - a year at a time - until I catch up.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. I recently discovered your blog and would love to retire in 3 yrs at age 50. My house will be paid for in 2 years. You help me to believe I can do it : )

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