The Last Day My Mom Will Ever Work :)

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 :)

Interview w/ My Mom Who Just Found Out She Can Retire Anytime She Wants

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.

(Visited 49 times, 1 visits today)

Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!


  1. Brian @ Debt Discipline November 30, 2015 at 6:32 AM

    Happy last day of work for your mom! She offers great practical advice. No mohawk in 1979?

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:06 PM

      It didn’t make its debut until 1980 ;)

  2. John C @ Action Economics November 30, 2015 at 6:45 AM

    Congratulations to Momma Money! I love the headline “Woman retires at 59 after leading a wonderfully satisfied life and raising three beautiful kids. Her secret? Spending less than she made!” Sounds like a winner to me!

  3. Charlie November 30, 2015 at 7:07 AM

    Ms Momma J Money – congrats on officially retiring! I completely agree with your advice of, “Be patient. People never want to save up for things – they just want it now. They’re never satisfied.” This sounds a lot like Great Depression type thinking. So many people swipe (credit card) or get a loan in order to get what they want now. Hope you enjoy retirement and be sure to keep pinching those pennies!

  4. Thias @It Pays Dividends November 30, 2015 at 7:11 AM

    Whoa! Congrats Momma J$! That is amazing that you were able to take the early retirement package when they offered it. This just goes to show you that you don’t need to do anything crazy or extreme to be able to retire before 65 – just spend less than you earn and invest the difference and you can get there.

  5. Bobby November 30, 2015 at 7:13 AM

    “Live each stage of your life”. <— One of the best pieces of $$$ advice I've seen in a long time!

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:07 PM

      Hard to remember but so true!

  6. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers November 30, 2015 at 7:21 AM

    It is actually very refeshing to hear this type of success story sometimes. It does seem like all of the stories that we hear are about the people retiring in their 30’s or maybe in their 40’s and it makes me feel overwhelmed and so far behind. So the stories of more typical early retirements are really nice to hear as a way to balance it out and feel better about my position every once in a while.

  7. Steve @ Think Save Retire November 30, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    It’s a celebration, baby! A very big congratulations and job well done to your mother. :)

  8. Susan Larson November 30, 2015 at 7:43 AM

    Great post, with the key being spend less than you make. I appreciate the list of tips, and the encouragement to “Go to thrift shops or yard sales to find thing you need. Why pay store prices?”

  9. Hannah November 30, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    Remember when you had super chubby cheeks? You were so cute!

    I mean, congratulations to your mom! So many great accomplishments, and many more to come I am sure.

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:09 PM

      Hey, my face is still chubby! Just due to a beard vs baby fat :)

  10. Kalie November 30, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    The element of patience she pointed out is so true–whether it’s thinking through a purchase to avoid impulse spending and find a better deal, or letting investments quietly grow over the years.

  11. Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels November 30, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Congrats, that’s awesome! Honestly, many points are common sense, but so few of us only follow them. Typically we just tend to look back and think what we could have done differently, however, every day is a day and focusing on those can still make a difference in our lives. I definitely want to retire early :) Very encouraging :)

  12. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies November 30, 2015 at 8:19 AM

    So fantastic! I hope to work into my 50s (I’m *such* a weirdo). That seems like the perfect age to leave the classroom. I love that she set herself up to be successful and taught you so many great lessons in the process. Cheers to her!

    Also, one day I’ll share my distracted by pennies/cookie mall disaster story. One day…

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:11 PM

      Oh you tease, you!

  13. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe November 30, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    I love that her first piece of advice was about the importance of family, and not about money or stuff. I think it’s a lot easier to spend less if you are prioritizing the relationships in your life.

  14. Tiffany Alexy November 30, 2015 at 8:49 AM

    Congrats to your mom!!! That’s so awesome. I think my mom could have retired years ago (she’s in her mid-fifties) but I think she is scared to. She likes staying busy so I guess it’s not terrible.

  15. Free to Pursue November 30, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    “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.”

    You hit the nail on the head re media. Only the tragic, the flashy and the extreme make it to “print”. Thank heaven for blogs. I appreciate you sharing her simple yet powerful lessons.

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:11 PM

      Thanks friend!! So glad you liked it :)

  16. Fervent Finance November 30, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    Congrats Momma J$! Great story and list of simple ways to get there!

  17. Levon November 30, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    Congrats to your mom for this – most people don’t achieve such financial success because they don’t have the discipline or the foresight (or maybe the luck) to do what your mother did. Excellent advice like this doesn’t always have to be flashy or extreme. It’s just solid advice.

  18. Justin @ Root of Good November 30, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    My mom retired this past summer at age 62 (after spending a decade or two raising me and my knucklehead brother). Basically the same boring path as your mom. Spend less than you make and save/invest what’s left each month.

    My dad is still clinging to his job and I’m not entirely sure why. I think he’s afraid that retirement will make him old. :)

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      He should spend some time hanging out with his old son then to see the light :)

  19. Richard Anthony November 30, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    Congratulations to Momma$ on her early retirement! I’ll lay money that she’ll soon be gainfully engaged in another enterprise and not fall into the “got-nothing-to-do-and-all-day-to-do-it-in” mindset. (Now we see where J$ gets all his financial savvy–it’s in his DNA!:)

  20. connieK November 30, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    SUCH awesome news!!!!! Congrats to Mom!!!!!! Fifty nine….. that is just really great!!!!!!! Like mom, like son, hey????? :)

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 2:14 PM

      My goal is to hit it by 39 so I can go on all the adventures she has up her sleeves! Haha… We’ll see how doable that is as my kids continue eating our wallets though :)

  21. Chelsea November 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    Congrats to your mom!

    *I frantically start doing my own math on retirement.*

  22. Noonan November 30, 2015 at 1:14 PM

    What a great accomplishment for your mom (and also what a very nice photo of the two of you)!

  23. Michelle November 30, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    What an exciting day. Congrats to her!

  24. Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless November 30, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    Wow, this is awesome! Congrats to your mom!
    I like the headline too; maybe you could change “Woman” to “Area Woman” and pitch it to the Onion as a sort of “truth is stranger than fiction” piece: spending less than you make is kind of a shocking idea in our culture. :)

    1. J. Money November 30, 2015 at 3:29 PM


  25. Rich Rabbit November 30, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Wise words from your mother. Great wisdom comes with age! Let’s hope we can all learn from her.

  26. Jason @ Islands of Investing November 30, 2015 at 6:53 PM

    Big congrats to your mom! Hope she enjoys life even more after achieving this massive milestone many of us dream about!

    Were your parents surrounded by similar people who had similar values to what she listed above? I find being around similar people, and having friends who share your values really helps keep you on track – even if it’s through the online blogging community (which of course your parents wouldn’t have had!). I’m always astonished at how powerful a force peer pressure is, especially the bad kind…

    1. J. Money December 2, 2015 at 6:51 AM

      Interestingly enough they weren’t. I think they’re both naturally pretty frugal, and once my father joined the military and started having us kids they were forced to live off less even more :) But I agree the people around us definitely affect us! Which is why I’m so glad I got addicted to THIS community here online vs others! Haha… Imagine if you got sucked into fashion or car forums? :)

  27. Hannah November 30, 2015 at 8:53 PM

    This was a fantastic post. Congratulations to your mom. I find myself struggling with this constantly. The words “don’t sacrifice your family” and “live each stage of your life” were just what I needed to hear. Sometimes it’s hard to be content when you feel like you can’t get ahead but it’s a season and it will pass. I want to be able to look back on it joyfully.

    1. J. Money December 2, 2015 at 6:54 AM

      I’m going to let her know you resonated with those statements – she’ll love it :)

  28. Bree December 1, 2015 at 2:41 AM

    Your blog was featured on :)

    1. J. Money December 2, 2015 at 6:51 AM

      Rock on! Love YNAB.

  29. Ramona @ Personal Finance Today December 1, 2015 at 6:27 AM


    This should be set in stone.

    I see so many parents who are too focused on careers and small businesses, while their children end up raised by strangers.

    It’s not easy to have a family and not ruin your career at the same time, but there are solutions and compromises that would allow you to enjoy your family and your money as well.

    Wonderful story and teachings.

    May she live maaaany many years and enjoy her retirement.

    1. J. Money December 2, 2015 at 6:53 AM

      Thank you Ramona! And as a direct recipient of all the love and attention I got growing up from my mom/dad, I agree it’s better than anything! :)

  30. Kim December 1, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    Yay for mom! Awesome pic. :)

  31. Steve Miller December 1, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    Wow, J. Money — I now see how you turned out so well. What an inspiring story, please pass along congratulations to your Mom. All the best.

  32. EL December 1, 2015 at 4:21 PM

    That’s awesome I like stories like these as they are fun to read. I think I read it, but I might have to go back and refresh my memory as to what she will do on her first free day. I’m sure her package was a good boost to push her to retire. Good luck.

    1. J. Money December 2, 2015 at 6:54 AM

      Hey! Very cool, thanks man. Will go over now and check it out – so kind of you :)

  33. Freedom 40 Guy December 1, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    Congrats to your Mom! My Mom also just retired this last year and her story is nearly the same. Lots of hard work, living within her means, etc. She retired early at 61. I learned most of what I know about money from her, so hopefully I can get even more extreme and retire much sooner!

    1. J. Money December 7, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      Rock on – big congrats to her too!

  34. B.C Kowalski December 3, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    Congrats to your mom! Reminds me a lot of my father’s story. We were frugal growing up, we got our clothes at Kmart and hand-me-downs. Going out to eat was for special occasions. The credit card was for the occasional purchases that required one, and was paid off that month. We didn’t go on many vacations, but we did go on some. Saving was always the first priority. He reached a point around 50 or so where he could retire at any time. He went to about 55, and when changes to state retirement funds were announced, he figured it was time to get out. Now he and my mom are living the good life – not the extreme early retirement of many of these blogs, but earlier than many. I’m glad you shared this because I think your mom’s scenario is probably a more realistic scenario for many. Thanks!

    1. J. Money December 7, 2015 at 10:19 AM

      Love hearing that!

  35. Taylor December 4, 2015 at 6:12 PM

    Yay! Congratulations to your mom! What a beautiful day and wonderful accomplishment. Not sure if this says anything positive about our society, but 59 actually IS super early for most people to retire. I hope you’ll share more about how she’s liking this new phase of her life and what she gets up to :)

    Also, my absolute FAVORITE piece of advice from her is this: “You’ll be able to afford more later – live each stage of your life.”

    This is SO important (and hard) for people in their 20’s to remember (aka: ME, haha). Thanks for sharing all of her wisdom. It was a treat :)

    1. J. Money December 7, 2015 at 10:20 AM

      I’m so glad you liked it, Taylor :) Been enjoying your blog every week!

  36. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank December 5, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    J. Money, I learned so much from those advice of your mother. What I like the most is be mature with money, which I think everyone should know.