My husband and I retired in 1998 when I was 34 years old after years of me living frugally by choice (and we both still do) and me working massive hours and saving all that I could from the beginning of high school and through my college degrees and beyond. (My husband was of a different mindset until shortly before we married....he was more of a "earn as much as you can and spend as much as you earn" person. But has been on the same page as me for the past 23 years).
Back in the 90's, I had never heard anyone talking about retiring that early. And there was very little on the internet, if anything, that I could find about retiring that early. So I figured that I was crazy to do so, that I must be missing *something*. But every way I kept crunching the numbers (looking for where I must be mistaken), the numbers said that I could make it. So we retired.
There were no calculators at that time that would project out beyond 50 years, at least that I could find. And since we planned (and still do) on living to 100, I had to do my own computations.
At age 53 now, I can finally use others' calculators for which I am very grateful!!! (Which the FIRECalc led me back to this website today....I believe that I was on here sometime in the past, but I might be mistaken. Regardless, it would have been before 2011. I know I used to frequent the Retire Early Home Page.)
I always tracked my spending from the 1980's, so I always knew what I needed regarding expenses. I still track everything to this day so that I know we are still okay and on track. So the question of "how much do I need to retire", I can answer for myself pretty darn well (with the exceptions of future unknowns that I never know what to plan for like if one day one of us goes in a nursing home, although I do try to factor that in). Those are a more difficult calculations.
There's been ups and downs during our retirement years, especially having retired just 2-3 years before the dotcom burst where we got slammed. One thing I can say about my husband and myself is that we are not risk-averse! I only know that *now* because we never left the market. Rather we left our money in and it did come back
When we retired I said that I wanted to pay cash for our house (we had relocated and downsized) in the "rare" event that it might be like just before the Great Depression. (Because worry is a part of my nature, I like to be ready for the worst case scenario). So that, push came to shove, we could at least pay the property tax and not lose our home. Thank goodness (on many counts) that we chose to do that. Who would've known that we were getting ready to retire at one of the worst times in history?! But it all worked out just fine actually, just not exactly what we expected. Although we did tighten our belts for a few years because we didn't know how low the market might go (it went a lot) or how long it would take to recover (a long time).
I am so glad that we did retire when we did though. Because had we waited a few more years until after the crash, I would have been too scared to retire because I wouldn't have known how things would unfold. But now having been through it, I know I can do it just fine.
We've had trips of a lifetime scattered throughout our retirement years so far and hopefully many more to come. Scattered in between them have been a couple of health crisis. But all-in-all I'm glad that we've been able to do so much so far while we are both still in excellent health, instead of having waited until we were already too old or sick to do what we really wanted to do. Hopefully that won't happen again until many more decades to come!!!