The Revelation

I have always thought about retirement.  I knew I would never be one of those people that loved their day job.  Since graduation from college, before starting my career, I remember thinking I wanted to retire.  I’ve saved from the beginning.  Often daydreaming about an early retirement and the unfathomable savings it would take to achieve.  We got married a little late, had a baby girl even later (she’s now 1).  Luckily my wife generally shares my frugal tendencies.  We’ve saved well together and envisioned an early retirement in our early 50s.  Never did we consider that we were thinking about the whole thing the wrong way.  We thought in terms of how much earlier than 65 can we retire.  The better question is how many years from today until we can retire.

Recently though, there was an aha moment.

I was sitting at my desk at work, day dreaming about how stagnant my career had become.  What would I have to do to get to the next level, to get that promotion and raise.  Then I ran into one of those happy retiree stories on a financial website.  The story was similar to mine, a young couple that made a decent living, that saved well, and they finally decided to quit the rat race and pursue more time with family, friends, and hobbies and essentially retire.

Why can’t we do that?

I’ve had a retirement spreadsheet forever.  Over time I would tweak the assumptions: rate of return, draw amount, retirement age, etc.  I would move the retirement age to 52, 49, 47 and back.  On this day though, I just had a discussion about school coming back from summer break.  How old are kids when they start school for the first time?  {I wouldn’t know, I have a baby}  5 years old eh?  So exactly 4 years from now she’ll be in school and the wife and I will be about 40.

I entered 40 into my little calculator, tweaked some assumptions and voila!  We can do this!  Can’t we?  I spoke to my wife that night assuming she would tell me I’m crazy.  She didn’t.  She was in the same place as I was, feeling bored, stagnant, and generally unsatisfied by work.  Not by lack of work, just by the pointlessness of it all.

I showed her the spreadsheet, the assumptions, and how much we would likely have available to spend in retirement.  Then I pulled up my trusty Quicken account and looked at how much we were spending now.  I removed all the expenses that would go away in retirement, added in some that would appear, and decided we will need to reduce our expenses by 20%.  Then regressed to my old self slightly.  I thought about 401k, bonus, etc and decided it would make more sense to last through February.  There we landed.

We can do this!  The mission starts now.  We will EXIT EARLY on February 22, 2021.

⇒ Continue at THE MISSION to get down to brass tacks (anyone use that phrase anymore?)

3 comments

  1. I have a lot of similar thoughts about retirement, by big problem is this; my youngest kid wont be out of the house until I am 52. I would have the money to retire before that, but am nervous about retiring with a minor child still under my roof. I wish I would have thought about this more when I was younger and pushing back having kids.

  2. That is a great way to see it: how many years from now instead of basing that important decision on the social “norm” of retiring at 65 and trying to cut back a few years. I will be following the mission !

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