ER plus 10 yrs
I decided at age 43 to retire at age 55 and created my financial plan using an Excel spreadsheet. Getting there in 12 yrs looked pretty difficult, but even with tough market conditions (esp. after 9/11) I was blessed to be able to hit that goal. Took my pension right at 55 and SS at 62-1/2 and wife's when she turned 62-1/2. The pension is a fixed amount and I believe I can manage assets better than the gov., so I see no benefit in waiting on SS. My calculations for SS show break-even requires 12-14 yrs after the delayed start age.
In the past 10 yrs, I have used very little of my retirement assets. Pension plus royalties from natural gas partnerships covered our living expenses til SS kicked in. Present liquid assets are $1M and slightly below plan, however total assets are higher than planned due to higher real estate values. We lost our home in a 2011 wildfire and had to rebuild. Also, for the past 5 yrs I have been converting assets into Roth IRAs with a tax minimization strategy having converted just under $300K, paying about 10% in taxes, but now have $450K of the $1M in Roth accounts. Still have 5 yrs to go, but no worries about RMD or high taxes if I unexpectedly need to make a huge liquidation. I would have been positioned to execute the SS repayment and reapply strategy if it had not been shut down.
With the pension and SS covering most of our living expenses and hopefully investments growing faster than cost of living increases, my plan shows we should be able to cover living expenses til age 85 with less than 1% asset liquidation each year.
And what do we do in retirement? Giving back to God and Country. We spend roughly 1/3 of each year doing volunteer construction, staying in our RV at each job. We meet lots of great people and see many great things in our travels. I have also gone on several overseas projects. Otherwise, we are home with family and friends.
In my opinion, early retirement is not that difficult but it requires serious planning and effort (like home downsizing, or early mortgage payoff). My planning research found most info to be too vague and general to be really useful, hence my own spreadsheet. Hope this is helpful.