Six months ago my mother got a notice from her work that they’re offering early retirement packages. She’d always just assumed she’d retire at 65 since that’s when people retire, but out of curiosity she ran it by her financial adviser who told her she could have retired a while ago and to start reading more financial blogs ;)
The next day she put in her 6 months (!) notice, and today we celebrate her last day as an employee – woohoo! Way to go mom, you did it! (Now when can you come over and babysit??)
In honor of this special occasion, I thought I’d re-share some of my interview with her on how she got here, and how any of US can too if we really want it bad enough. None of this is all that surprising considering her and my father are the most frugal and conservative people I know, but it’s a nice reminder that the simple stuff does work if you put in the time.
Here’s how they did it (my father is still working, but we’ll see how long that lasts!):
- They invested in mutual funds
- They put all their pay increases into investments
- They didn’t splurge
- They led a very meager, but comfortable life
- They didn’t over do shopping, clothes, makeup, etc
- They budgeted all our family trips
- They didn’t go out to eat all the time
- They watched what they spent
- They were never really into material things
- They pretended all their extra money wasn’t there (this is key!)
- They didn’t buy us kids all the Nikes and Converses we wanted growing up (much to my chagrin ;))
- They shopped sales and compared prices
- And they never put anything on a credit card they couldn’t pay off at the end of the month
When I asked her for any advice she could give us, here’s what she rattled off:
- Don’t sacrifice your family in order to have more of a career and all your “wants”
- You’ll be able to afford more later – live each stage of your life
- Be patient. People never want to save up for things – they just want it now. They’re never satisfied.
- Be content with your things
- No secret shopping behind your partner’s back
- Be creative with your spending. You can still eat out and do fun activities but in a cheaper way.
- Spend money on your kids (classes, musical lessons) instead of on yourself all the time
- Help them with college (they funded our education as their parents had did for them)
- Go to thrift shops or yard sales to find thing you need. Why pay store prices?
- Never make quick decisions. If possible, think about it overnight and weigh the options. Is it necessary? Is it a want or an immediately need or one that can be put off for a while?
- Compare prices to find deals, what stores will match a sale at another store, where the best deals are for snacks, etc. Use coupons!
- Always get second opinions when making an important decision regarding your health, people you need to hire to do jobs around the house, etc. Never take one quote – get at least 3 and ask others who they use for certain things.
- Do things in moderation
- Be mature with your money
All things we’ve heard at one time or another, but all still very much true. If y’all missed the interview from over the summer, here it is again below. It’s one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever done :)
I also peppered her with a bunch of other juicy questions such as how much they typically spend in a given month, where all their money is invested, whether they feel like they missed out on anything in life being so frugal, what their income streams will look like going forward, if she’s worried about what she’ll now do without a job soaking up so much time, whether she thinks spending less or earning more is better, and of course what the first thing she’s going to do on her first “forever” day off – tomorrow :)
Her story isn’t extreme enough to ever make it into the media, but I wish it would as it offers up just as much truth and tips as the stories we’re so used to seeing. And it’s much more realistic for the vast majority of people too! Not everyone can retire in their 30’s or 40’s or even 60’s for that matter, as much as they wish they could. I can see the headline now:
“Woman retires at 59 after leading a wonderfully satisfied life and raising three beautiful kids. Her secret? Spending less than she made!”
Maybe she’ll have to start a blog and make it a family business ;)
Pic above circa 1979… I think I was distracted by pennies off in the distance.