5 must-dos to prepare for early retirement

Early retirement isn’t for everyone.  We’ve lost track of how many people have told us they’ll be working forever or just don’t think they can give anything up to retire early.  We totally understand.  But, if you ARE considering early retirement, here are a few things we’ve learned so far:

1We tried out our retirement budget for a full year before pulling the trigger.  It took Holly two years to decide she really did want to retire.  That extra time gave us the ability to draft and test our retirement budget while she was still working.  We cut back on spending in every category.  Some of those cuts have been painful, but for the most part, it’s been easy.  We’re still tweaking our budget and we’ll share more in future posts.

2We paid off all debt.  We’ve always been good about managing debt.  Our financial advisor kept preaching at us to pay off vehicles, our home, etc.  Thankfully we’ve never had any credit card debt.  We use our credit cards to pay for nearly everything, but we pay the balance off each month.  That way we get the points but don’t have to pay interest.

3We simplified our lives as much as possible.  When the Colorado housing market was crazy hot, we decided to sell our home and downsize.  That meant we needed to sell a bunch of our stuff too.  We were scared to do that, but in the end getting rid of so much stuff was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders.  Now, we have minimal furniture, a lot fewer shoes, and scanned photos (vs boxes and boxes of old Polaroids).

4We worked closely with our financial advisor.  We’ve had the same advisor for 20 years, so he knows us well. We worked with him on our budget, tax implications, healthcare options, and income generating strategies.  That helps us have confidence in our plan.  Plus, we have multiple short and long-term plans to ensure we don’t get into financial trouble when the economy stinks.  We also have “job descriptions” for each financial account.  For example, we have separate accounts to manage funds for summer travel, home improvements, healthcare, vehicles, etc.  That helps us know what we’ve got to spend on different categories vs one big bucket of money.

5We changed our minds several times.  Actually, Holly changed her mind several times.  Carter was 100% bought in to retiring early from day one!  We debated when to retire, how to retire, how many emergency funds we needed, what our “magic number” was for investments, etc.  We had plans A, B, C, D, and Z for every variable we could think of.  We think this is a normal process and probably one most retirees go through…whether you’re 45, 55, 65, or 75 years old.

These are the 5 key steps we’ve taken to help us have more confidence in what we’re doing. We realize there are a lot of variables to consider when we likely have 40+ years to live on our savings. And, we freak out every few weeks. We think that’s pretty normal! Let us know if you have questions or suggestions for us. We’re all ears….

6 comments

  1. Absolutely pay off credit cards each month. Can’t stress that enough and hopefully have instilled that into both our adult “kids”. That is probably one of the most important things you are doing. Keep it up. So fun watching you enjoy life!

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  2. This is great!! Loved reading every post & catching up on you two & how you have been doing this “early retirement”….thanks for sharing!! We still hope to come visit you guys and will keep you posted on that. Sounds like you have learned a lot, you adapt & overcome, you learn more and move forward with smiles, working together & enjoying life together – Love it!! 😊 Xoxo Mary Polidoro

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    • Thanks, Mary! Sure hope you’re able to make it down to AZ this year. If not, we’ll be back in CO for a few weeks. We’ll see you then!

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  3. Have you kids checked/considered/done any “secret shopper” gigs? Particularlly with extensive travel, you could have fun and painlessly make reasonable cash. We just bowled and ate at an AMF nearby. Will make $44 on a $68 payout. It takes about a month to process. You do a report after the shop and get get paid. Easy AND peasy…Second to None and iSecret Shopper are two that we shop for mostly but there are others. Check ’em out. It is hardly work so you won’t technically violate your retirement resolve!

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