Jan 8, 2010

my parents retired in their mid-50s

The family will be going back to real life soon. In a way I am looking forward to some form of routine, but I know that I will have days that look back at vacation days.

I met a high school friend a week ago. She told me that she would like to retire before she hits 50. I was struck by what she said: I get tired of working sometimes, and this daily routine is boring me. I want to retire by 45.

I was struck because my mom told me that a few days before my friend did. Dad retired at 55. He was the main provider working as an engineer and mom had her own business that she also stopped doing when dad retired. They both retired in their mid-50s and now depend on rental income. They live a simple life. They live a frugal lifestyle that they have mastered and are actually proud of. They talk to us constantly about having financial goals and limiting buying unnecessary stuff. Heck, they still ask me if giving them my iMac means buying a new one.

Anyway, my dad is the first of his siblings to retire and he's the 3rd of 5! Yes, his 2 older brothers are still working and they are envious of dad's early retirement. They saved money to build their retirement home, which they paid for in cash. All US$175,000 of it! They still have enough savings and investments to support them through their retirement. They also have their retirement funds untouched til they are of age to claim, in addition to their rental income. They are very much set!

Mom told me that we all get tired of working for money, that's why we shouldn't. We should save, live a simple lifestyle, invest, and never get into debt. They don't know that we have some debts and that we are paying for J's student loans. Of course, they know about the mortgage but they'd rather that we didn't. If they knew about the student loans, they'd just rant about how people (or parents) spend so aimlessly without considering their kids' future. This is why we are saving $50/fortnight (for now) for our child's college fund so that he gets the kickstart (like I did) that his father didn't. My parents have managed to retire early although many people thought that they still had earning power in them for another 10 years. They had planned for it. Mom didn't like the idea that dad would work his butt off til his 65th birthday. She thought both of them deserved to enjoy what's left of their youth. Dad didn't think much about retiring early for a long time but mom kept pushing for the idea. He's still getting emails from his previous boss about doors still open for him. He sometimes miss working and earning money but, at the same time, he can't really exchange his relaxed lifestyle now for a 40-hour-a-week job.

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