Saturday, April 2, 2016

Feeling the FIRE

Peanut and I have decided to set up a BHAG - a big hairy audacious goal for ourselves. We're going to aim to retire in twelve years.

We probably won't actually retire - but we want to be capable of doing that. Peanut stumbled upon a post at Mr. Money Mustache about the simple math behind retiring early, and we realized that with my job, we can actually pull this off. By saving 65% of our take-home pay, we can stop working in our mid-40s. It'll probably take us 18 months or so to get to the point where we are saving a full 65% of our income (because we need to do things like build up the emergency fund and pay off the car) but given that we're used to living on one income and have managed to pull off big financial plans before, this seems within our grasp.

To sum up, we'll need to basically keep living as if we only have one income, and save the rest of our money in official retirement accounts and other types of investments (because we won't actually be eligible to withdraw from retirement accounts by the time we're ready to retire). We'll have to pay off the car, have a healthy emergency fund, and not increase our housing expenses (we could also focus on paying off our entire mortgage instead of retiring, but we're not focused on that because Reasons). We likely limp along with a 30% savings rate for a couple of years until we no longer have full-time childcare expenses - that accounts for as much as 30% of our gross income right now. Once the kids are in school, it will feel like we got a huge raise!

I wouldn't say we've been floundering about without a financial goal, but "pinch pennies to be able to save a few hundred bucks a month on one income" is not a super inspiring way to manage one's money. "Bust our butts for the next decade to be financial independent forever" is WAY more exciting. Financial Indepence Retire Early - that's something to get fired up about!

3 comments:

  1. Do you have an end number if mind for early retirement? How much do you want to have in the bank to say you met your goal?

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  2. Cool! We started on this path about a year ago. We don't have a specific date in mind (we're only 30), but being able to retire by 40 is definitely our goal.

    There are ways to get money out of your retirement accounts before 59 1/2. Google "72t distribution" and "Roth IRA conversion ladder." Piece of cake!

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  3. Besides the 72t distribution system Stephanie mentioned, the first $20,000 + of taxable income of a married couple filing jointly is basically tax-free because of the personal exemptions ($4000 each in 2015) and the standard deduction ($12,600 for married filing jointly). (If your itemized deductions are higher than the standard deduction, your "tax-free" amount could be even higher.)

    This means that if you are mostly relying on after-tax money (from savings) for your living expenses in early retirement, you can withdraw some money each year from a taxable retirement account like a traditional IRA and pay only the 10% penalty/excise tax, but not any actual income tax.

    Another benefit of having low taxable income post-retirement is that you will qualify for major subsidies on your health insurance under Obamacare, at least until that system crashes and burns.

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Thanks for commenting!