Looking for answers to help fill in the gaps....
This is my first post so I apologize for starting out with a bunch of questions without having provided any input to the forums myself. Unfortunately I only started thinking about an early retirement plan and have a lot more questions than answers.
Before I start asking questions though ~ a little information about myself:
Age 43. Married with 3 kids (2 under five and 1 almost out of high school). Estimated age when my wife and I can retire (50-53). I am not 100% certain about what the right amount of money is for full retirement (no part time work), but think it is somewhere in the $3-3.5 million range assuming annual income requirements in the $100-125K range. My wife and I are both reasonably frugal and informed regarding investments, asset allocation and other financial matters. Keeping this information in mind I have the following questions.
1) What are the most important steps I can take right now to get on the right track toward retiring in 7 to 10 years?
2) How much should I budget for healthcare for a family of 4 assuming we are all relatively healthy or should I ask what process I should follow to get a good idea on how much this will cost?
3) What sort of budgeting should I do for college costs? Should I set up a separate account?
4) How many years of expense tracking do people use as a basis for determining requirements during retirement?
5) How much slush or contingency should I factor into my plan in terms of extra assets or income I don't think I will need, but would be nice to have just in case?
6) Should I factor in long-term care?
7) And finally....for those of you who have retired early if you were to explain to someone at a party how you managed to escape the rat race early how would you explain it. Was it all hard work and planning? Diligent saving over the long-term? Did you own a business? Did you buy a hot stock that went to the moon? etc.
I know there are a lot of questions so feel free to pick and choose what you want to answer AND thank you in advance for your input.