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Conquer 3 Critical Early Retirement Challenges by Redefining ‘Retirement’

For the first decade of my adult life I was saving diligently while coasting through life with vague ideas that someday I could retire early. As my wife and I reached our mid 30’s, we paid off our home and saw our investment balances building. We realized early retirement may actually be a possibility. I …

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Getting a Mortgage When You Have Assets But No Income

Most early retirees have no pension, annuity, or Social Security income. Even if you’re a traditional retiree, you might have only one of those income streams. But what if your lifestyle plans require a home purchase? Even if you have the savings to afford a house, you might not necessarily be able to liquidate enough …

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A Strong Marriage in Retirement

A stable marriage is the bedrock of personal and financial success for many of us. Having recently celebrated my 30th anniversary, maybe I’m entitled to talk just a little bit about what works, and what doesn’t. Though, I know there is no “formula” for human relationships. Each is unique. And each relationship requires effort every …

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Retirement Calculator News, and a Mystery Solved…

It was a blustery winter day, just about a year ago, when I stayed indoors all afternoon to work at my desk. The snowflakes stacked on the railing outside as I broke ground on new software, something I hadn’t done in years. It would be a modeling framework that I could use to research and …

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The Downside of Retirement

Early retirement has been good, in general. I reached my goal of financial independence after years of frugality and hard work. It’s fun being here and writing about the details. But, while I’d like to say I’m so much happier now, in reality, I’m probably not…. Don’t get me wrong: I have a great life. …

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Getting Organized for Financial Independence

You can get to financial independence well enough even if you’re disorganized. As long as you’re also smart and creative. But, you’ll reach financial freedom much faster by being organized about your intentions. Sloppiness with your money is no advantage on the journey to wealth. In my last post I discussed the basic financial tools …

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Tools for Financial Independence

The path to financial freedom involves accumulating and managing assets. You need to have more resources coming into your life than going out. And you need to grow those resources. To accomplish that, it helps to have tools and a system. You’ll reach financial independence faster if you’re organized for the journey. The downfall of …

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Is Your Retirement Calculator Designed for Accuracy?

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “New Study Questions Retirement Planning Calculators’ Accuracy.” It reported on an academic study of 36 retirement planning tools. The research concluded that “in most cases, the available offerings are extremely misleading.” This wasn’t news to me. My first article on the inaccuracies in retirement …

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One Retirement Number You Can’t Afford to Get Wrong

I’ve long promoted using free retirement calculators, easily available on the web, to get a better handle on your retirement trajectory. These tools give you a sense for how much you need to save to retire, providing much-needed perspective and motivation. I’ve also advocated for ignoring the hideously complex U.S. tax code whenever possible in …

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Dealing with Uncertainty in Retirement Calculations

Remember the game of Telephone? Players whisper a secret message down the line from one to the next. When the message reaches the end of the line, it’s repeated aloud to the group. And, without fail, it’s been mangled beyond recognition! Retirement planning can be like that. Seemingly small differences in input can compound into …

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Retirement Health Care: What Are Your Options?

For years, health insurance in the U.S. was a major roadblock to early retirement. If you dared to leave work before age 65, when Medicare starts, you were on your own for retirement health care. In my case, our assets were closing in on financial independence as I reached my mid-40’s. But pre-existing conditions precluded …

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My Favorite Retirement Calculators

I’ve used many retirement calculators. More than 80 at last count. I relied on these tools to plan my own retirement trajectory, culminating in early retirement at age 50. Then I started a blog and began reviewing retirement calculators. Over time, these posts have become the most popular on my site. I’ve recently updated my …

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Comparing the 2 Leading Social Security Calculators

It was a mystery. I’d spent the morning sifting through results from the two leading Social Security calculators. I was running my eye down the column of numbers generated by the 2nd well-respected calculator. They summed to more than $700K in lifetime benefits. That seemed reasonable enough. But wait, it was only half what the …

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New Social Security Rules: Do You Need a Calculator?

The only constant is change. Do a little retirement planning, and you’ll soon bump into that truth. Earlier this month the U.S. government gave us another reminder: The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 made some of the most significant changes to Social Security benefits in years. Lawmakers unexpectedly tacked the changes onto an emergency measure …

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Summer Vacation: Retirement Towns, Adversity and Longevity

Though I no longer work a regular job, it still feels like a vacation when I break from the usual routine. And, for the past four weeks, we’ve enjoyed a major break from our regular routine. In late July, we left Santa Fe for an extended road trip to the West, Northwest, and Rockies. We …

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Is Early Retirement Irresponsible?

Retirement is an invention of the last half century. Thanks to social welfare programs and longer life spans, more people could look forward to life after a career. But now it’s possible for some dedicated and fortunate workers to put together the assets for financial independence years earlier. Traditional retirement typically starts at age 65. …

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The Ideal Retirement Location – Will we stay in Santa Fe?

I awake at dawn and glance out our bedroom window. A rosy glow, mixed with a scattering of monsoon clouds, is taking shape over Santa Fe Baldy to our east. The rocky peak rises to 12,622 feet, anchoring the Sangre de Cristo range in our backyard. Another day begins in Santa Fe…. After breakfast, I …

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The 6 Crucial Questions to Answer Before You Retire

Readers and friends often ask me about the retirement decision-making “process.” How do you prepare, a year out, 6 months out, 3 months out? Do you need a written plan in advance? What about contingencies? Do you just pull the plug, or is there a more systematic way? When is it really safe to leave? …

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Shopping Obamacare: Comparing Plans / Awaiting a Verdict

Much of my journey to early retirement was carefully planned. I saved a lot, invested carefully, read extensively. But in one area — health care — I was just plain lucky. Health insurance is one of the most critical issues in retirement: To live without it before Medicare starts at age 65 is to court …

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10 Tips for More Accurate Retirement Calculations

Retirement calculators are not all created equal. And the differences between them are more than just an academic issue. Why? Because you’ll be using these tools to make one of the most important decisions of your life. If you’re approaching retirement, or want to someday, either you or an advisor will likely use a retirement …

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The Best Retirement Calculators

What’s so important about retirement calculators? Why are these tools of more than just technical interest? Well, they’re important because either you, or a financial planner, will use the results from a retirement calculator to make one of the most crucial decisions of your life: Are you financially independent yet, or not? If you get …

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