To make a long story somewhat shorter, I spent life through my 30's without any thought to retirement. My epiphany was when I was in my early 40s, and the company I was with went under. A first real look at the finances showed that my six figure income was going almost entirely to paying interest on debt I had accumulated, including current loans for two new cars, two houses, an airplane, and who knows what else.
sad thing is that I owed tons of money in addition to those specific items, and can't remember a single thing I bought for that money!)
All in all, I was spending roughly 15-20% of my salary on the costs of actual living, and all the rest on taxes, mortgage and debt interest, and so forth. Nothing had been going to savings other than the minimum 401k needed to get company matching funds.
Losing that job was probably the best thing that ever happened. It convinced us that we had
to live debt-free -- yes, even without mortgage debt.
It also started the fifteen year plan to retire.
We liquidated our retirement accounts and the real estate, and sold the cars, and took a job overseas, where housing was basically free, and there were pretty much no taxes. We continued to live on 15% or so of my salary, but the rest went into savings and investments.
About ten years into the fifteen year plan, a co-worker showed me Intercst
's Retire Early Home Page
. All in all, the information he posted on his page, and info on the formerly free forum, allowed me to turn my 15 year plan into a 12 year plan.
My BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) was that I didn't need to wait until someone else said I could retire -- I could do it whenever I was financially and otherwise ready to do so. (Well, duh!)
Before Intercst's site, I guess I'd always just unthinkingly assumed only lottery winners could do that.
About a year and a half before retiring, we bought a 36' boat (named Dory
, hence my userid), and spent several 3 week vacations aboard. Then, when we retired, we moved aboard full time, and have attempted to follow the good weather, south in the fall, and back north in the spring. (I'll be posting more about retiring afloat in the retirement lifestyles section.)
Well, that's enough for now. It leaves out a lot, like the business brokerage and appraisal firm we bought, ran, and sold, which helped push the nest egg toward the magic figure we wanted, but most of my "past lives" can stay in the past, unless the conversation happens to go that way.
PS: Here's a tagline from my email. It's how family keeps up with us:
"For our current location (updated whenever we move), click on http://www.aprs.net/cgi-bin/winlink.cgi?ad0ry