Guys, check out this note I just received from a long-time reader of the blog…
So powerful!!! So sad!! So inspiring!!
Life Update: I was one of the original people referenced in the “live off 50% of your income” article. Fast forward 6 years. Just as we were about to retire in our early/mid 50s my husband passed away very suddenly.
We had been ready to retire anyway so once I got through the funeral/legal/financial administrative stuff I quit my job. For the 18 months that followed I’ve worked more or less full time on clearing out our house (30yrs of accumulated stuff…) and arranging to have something beautiful but smaller and better suited to our new lives built. My oldest had been on the verge of moving out and my youngest will only be with me for another 3-4 years so the big family house became ridiculous overnight as we went from 4 in the house to 2.
It’s been an unexpected change in life but I’m trying to see this as the start of a new chapter and an opportunity to design a different sort of life for myself. While this isn’t the early retirement we had planned together while living that 50% lifestyle, what it did mean was that when all of this happened I was mortgage free, both of our retirement accounts were complete and ready for us to pull the plug, and now unexpectedly there was life insurance, and his survivor pensions added to the mix.
I can’t tell you how much more difficult it would have been if we had been drowning in debt and living to the full extent of our incomes when this happened. Loss of a spouse is difficult enough but having our finances completely in order made this so much easier. Instead of worrying about the money, I was free to be home with our children and manage the downsizing.
I’m now getting started on a revised version of my early(ish) retirement. I still intend to travel regularly as we’d planned but the bucket list now only includes the places I want to see. I’m also signing up for art classes, I plan to garden more, and I have a massive list of books I was too busy to read while I was working. I intend to start going to the gym regularly (during the day when it’s not busy) and I’m toying with going back to take another degree for the sheer joy of learning and with no pressure on marks or any plan to even use it when I’m done.
You never know what curve balls life will throw at you. Getting your financial act in order is just good sense under the best of circumstances, but if the rug gets pulled out from under you it can be a life saver during a difficult time.
Mannnnnn…. Can you imagine??? Working and saving so hard for decades, only for your partner to die right before you get to enjoy the spoils together?? And then having to move forward with it all by yourself?!
I don’t know how I’d cope with that, but I agree it would be very nice to not have to worry about $$$ throughout it all. Which is usually a BIG one for households, particularly if the spouse that departs was the breadwinner!
But good for our reader here, for not only locking in all this $$$ stuff early on in her life (saving 50%+ is no joke!!), but for also staying so optimistic through it all and seeing it as an unexpected new chapter of her life. As she said in her note, it would have been a totally different story had they been up to their eyeballs in debt when this happened!!
Here was the original comment she left on the blog, btw, which inspired all those series of articles around living off 50% of your income from back in 2012:
We’ve cut our expenses to the basics so that we can live on ~55% of our take home pay. This doesn’t include savings or things spend on rarely and can’t predict the timing (restaurants, clothing, household and car repairs, etc). Most weeks none of these things happen so all the excess after paying off the VISA gets swept out to our retirement accounts or an extra mortgage payment.
If we had to buy new sneakers for the kids, repair the washing machine, or bought a new lamp, we simply transfer slightly less that week. When we want to take a holiday we just let the excess pile up for several weeks and then go. It’s a little unconventional but it’s a system that works for us.
Because we live on way less than we earn, we have a weekly opportunity to fund unexpected expenses or little splurges, but most of the time it all gets moved somewhere sensible. I find that by not budgeting for entertainment, clothing etc we don’t feel entitled – as if we’ve pre-approved ourselves to spent that amount without pausing to question whether we really need it. Instead there is no planned budget for these items and anything we spend is coming out of what would otherwise be available for the Friday transfer to savings or the mortgage.
Who knew how important this would come to be later in life, eh? So freaky….
That original 50% post turned out to be one of our most popular on the site, and later went on to inspire a follow up post which turned out to be even more popular: Proof You Can Live off 50% of Your Income.
I thought the intro to it was pretty clever at the time ;)
One of my most visited posts on this site is on living off 50% of your income back in 2012. It wasn’t the most well written or Earth shattering article ever done, but it did open up some great discussions on what’s possible out there from plenty of people doing it.
In the 118 comments left so far, people fall into the following categories:
- Those who wish they could save 50% or more right now
- Those who ARE saving 50% or more right now!
- Those who used to be saving 50% but have since scaled back
- Those who are *about* to start saving 50% or more
- And then those who say it’s stupid and not possible
Today’s post is for those who think it’s not possible :)
ZING!!! And of course, nowadays “living off 50%” is much more popular than it used to be, at least here in the online world due to the ever growing FIRE movement… It doesn’t make it any easier to pull off unfortunately (I’m still no where close to 50% after half a decade trying!), but at least we know it’s possible and can be inspired by others.
So yeah – if you’re looking for a good challenge to push yourself towards, maybe shooting for a 50% savings rate is it?! And hopefully you’ll still be around to enjoy it by the time the stars align!
Reminds me of another friend of mine who’s already purchased his cemetery lot AND placed his and his wife’s gravestones on it… even though they’re both 100% still alive, haha…
His reasoning? He doesn’t want his kids to have to worry about any of it later down the road. But I think the real reason is to appreciate life in the here and now more, which is a feeling you can’t help but face when you’re literally staring at your own gravestone!
So here’s to more saving and surviving out there!! ;)