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Early Retirement Thoughts

July 31st, 2016 at 07:43 am

This probably won't be a well thought out post, but I just need to write out some thoughts. We have seven years until my husband can retire from the Army with a paycheck starting immediately. He will be 54. I will be 51.

According to military retirement calculators his retirement pay before taxes would be $4,572 per month or $54,863 per year. So, theoretically, our goal should be to have expenses less than $4,572 per month. At least if we didn't want to pull any money from our retirement savings. I'm pretty sure we could live on less than this, even while doing some traveling.

If he can get into a particular position in the next two years, he may be willing to continue to work until 60 for the Army. Which gee, at that point, isn't really early retirement! I'm not sure he cares, he does like to be busy. The retirement check would be $8746 per month or $104,959 per year. That's less than he makes now, but not by much.

One issue for me in thinking about retirement is our living situation. We have around $40K that came from selling two homes. Thus enough for 20% down on a $200,000 home. I would be fine buying a home in that price range or less. We are currently renting, so we are not building any equity. I can tell our savings has increased in the last six months, by around $7K. I think this is better than if we owned a home.

Honestly, I'd love to buy a house with cash at the time we retire. Of course, that feels overwhelming to think about when we only have $40K specifically set aside as house money. If I were to make that happen, I need to be much more diligent about saving cash to make it happen. It's not that I'm unwilling, I'm just not sure what I'm aiming for. I think we would move back to the midwest, which is where family is and likely both of our daughter's will be (although one never knows on that for sure).

We are currently in the middle of paying for college for our daughter's. We have some savings. Scholarships have been helpful so far. And we have the Post 911 GI bill that I expect will cover half the cost of each of them to attend college. The best case scenario is that they leave college with zero loans. Worse case is they leave college with one years worth of loans. Our oldest is going to be a sophomore this year in college. Our youngest is going to be a junior in high school. Thus they should both be out of college at the time my husband would retire at the earliest.

I feel we are currently living in a home with too much space for our needs and we are paying too much as a result. The home is 2800 sq ft, four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, two living areas, two dining areas, a kitchen, screened in porch, and very large yard. We pay $1800 per month in rent, which is the going rate for this size property. We are not overpaying for the property itself, but probably paying more because we have a home larger than our needs. Most of the time it's just three of us living here, with two cats. Smile We could probably move elsewhere in the area, but I know that is disruptive to our daughter. It also costs some money to move, even in town.

Another thought I have, that may or may not be related to retiring early is buying rental property. Specifically, thinking about buying a home in the college town our daughter lives in so that she could live there rather than a dorm. Not sure if this would involve roommates or not. We wouldn't be living in that town thus as owners, that could be an issue. Although, our daughter would likely learn some things about home ownership through the process.

We max out our Roth IRAs, and put 10% in the tax deferred TSP. We would save 15% on taxes if we put that Roth money into IRAs instead, yet, I'm not sure that is really smart if we would want to use that money in early retirement. That would be $1650 in our pockets each that could go towards the saving for a home. I know we could easily save $1000 a month, which is $12,000 a year. In 7 years time, that would be at least $84K, preferably more if invested.

Again...random thoughts. I would really like to simplify overall and have some clear financial goals going forward. We save what we can for retirement and college, but I've been lazy about the plan for the next seven years. If I want to make something happen we need to start making it a focus. I don't want to only have $40K set aside in seven years for a home.

Feel free to chime in with thoughts or questions. I don't have all the answers yet.

8 Responses to “Early Retirement Thoughts”

  1. jp Says:

    When I went to college, after my first year in the dorm, my parents bought a condo that I lived in with roommates. We paid rent each month to my parents and we had to cover all utilities. I was responsible for collecting and paying all rents and utilities...I think it was a great introduction to home ownership and just living as a grown-up. There was also the safety net that I was renting from my parents, and they paid cash for the house, so if something drastic happened, they knew they were okay (I didn't know it at the time). Since it was my parents place, as opposed to a true rental, I also got to practice/learn my DIY skills around the house. I actually ended up buying the condo from them after grad school, and it is now my rental property.

  2. Jenn Says:

    CCF, I think you're in a really good financial position. So much of your planning needs to consider your personal goals. To me, $54k/year would be plenty with no dependent kids or savings to fund. But that's me - I've had plenty of travel through work so my vision of the perfect retirement is a basic lifestyle.

    When I look at your facts, I think I would stay in the house for 2 years until DD2 goes to college, then downsize dramatically and spend the following 5 years throwing the difference in rents into the house savings fund. Then retire in 7 years. Would you also get SS later, or since the retirement is from the government, is that considered to be included?

  3. rob62521 Says:

    I'm going to play devil's advocate here...I'm a homeowner so don't get me wrong, but if you want to travel once you retire, would it be necessary to buy a house? I know people say that you aren't building up equity and so on and so forth, but a friend of mine who had her house paid for before they retired, gave up home ownership and loves it. She loves the freedom of not having to deal with repairs (she calls the management) and she figures in the long run, she saves money because she isn't constantly worried about upkeep.

  4. ceejay74 Says:

    It's good you're starting to think about it now! Seven years gives you plenty of time to sock away money while you figure out what you really want your future to look like.

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    @rob, I do appreciate your thoughts on owning vs renting. After completing one year of renting I can see the benefits. And I can see the negatives. We are renting now because we are likely to move pretty frequently over the next seven years. At 51, I expect to still want to set down roots. I don't expect our travel will be months and months at a time. And likely in our much older years, we may want to rent. My parents sold their home about three years ago and have very much enjoyed renting an apartment with a fantastic view. They love it, although sometimes working with management is frustrating to them.

    @jenn, thank you. I too don't think $54K would be too hard to live on! Yes, we would get social security, as my husband has been paying into that system just like most everyone else. We've never even factored social security into our retirement though. I would guess we will try to hold off on taking those funds as last as possible.

    @jp, thank you! It's nice to know you did learn something with the set up your parents provided. I do have a little concern it would be enabling our daughter and I don't want that to happen.

  6. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    You could buy a fairly nice place here for not too much, and wouldn't have to worry about being able to rent it out to college kids. The rental market is pretty tight - and the public uni is growing by leaps and bounds. They are building at least one new apartment complex for uni kids I think. If your younger daughter is also thinking of going to the same uni, then it could be a pretty good investment I think. They'd have your sister? in town to lean on - and I'd be happy to help too if needed. Smile (The community college here is also in the process of building a new student housing complex to meet housing demands - not sure when that is supposed to be started though.)

    With as young as you and your DH will be when retiring, I think I would go for renting a small place and traveling.

  7. snafu Says:

    What are the facts? Are you paying utilities and rental for square footage you don't fully use? I support the idea of working on a plan for the future, the next phase for you and husband as you see daughters launched into their next phase. DH and I made plans but were repeatedly sideswiped by unexpected health issues and economic tsunamis. Those adjustments feel like a twitch in hindsight because we were totally unprepared for sons successful launch...at the other side of the country! Honestly, at this point I wouldn't be surprised if they took offers in Australia!

  8. My English Castle Says:

    We too have been thinking about buying a condo--perhaps in the Twin Cities-- for DD to live in if she chose the University of MN. With my family and friends there, I'd like to have a place there eventually, even if we do live in the UK part of the year. My nephew shared a condo with a girl whose parents were doing just that. Although I like our house and the area and school district, I'm a bit weary of the upkeep and DH is not good at regular maintenance. There are so many things he'd rather do. Our next four years here needs to be focused on getting him through grad school, DD through high school and settled in college, and me wrapping things up at the university. But for us, I think it's a process. At least in the UK, we would rent for a bit. Let's work out our processes!

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