Frequently Asked Questions

When did you retire?

I retired from a 29-year career in civil and software engineering in April 2011 when I was 50 years old.

How much did you make and save when you were working?

Though I don’t have the precise number, a rough calculation shows that the average gross income over my career was around $100,000 annually. (I earned an engineering degree, joined a start-up technology company, and worked 60+ hour weeks for most of the first half of my career.) We saved approximately one-third of my salary, plus bonuses, during the peak earning years.

Why did your wife continue working for two years after you retired?

Caroline stayed home for years while raising our son. When he was grown, she returned to teaching. She was a public school teacher in Tennessee, and loved her work, but it didn’t pay much. I ran my retirement calculations assuming she was not working, so her income after I retired was a bonus for us. Now retired, her pension is minimal, about $100/month. But we did need her health benefits. And thanks to her retirement benefits, we have been able to buy into a group health plan at predictable rates. If she didn’t have those retirement health benefits, our health insurance premiums could have been much higher, with less coverage.

What are your living expenses?

Our bare essential living expenses (assuming no mortgage or rent) are around $2,500/month. Our ‘comfortable’ retirement budget (again assuming no mortgage or rent) is about $4,500/month. We’ll spend more than that in some years if our investments are doing well.

Also, see this post:

What is your withdrawal rate?

The average withdrawal rate from our investment portfolio is between about 3.6% and 4%, depending on how you value our expected Social Security benefits.

How much did you save in order to retire?

I’ve written that couples with a lifestyle like ours are going to need to save between $1 and $2 million for a comfortable retirement. Our net worth is in that range. We owned our house (subsequently sold) free and clear, and have no debt of any kind.

What are your investments and where do you hold them?

See these posts: My Investment Portfolio

How do you get health care?

See these posts: Health Care

How much did you pay for your son’s college education?

We contributed about $9,000/year on average to his expenses while in college. But he earned a large 4-year scholarship to a public university, plus worked most of his semesters and summers. So he paid for the majority of his own college. (He is awesome.)

Why don’t you post more often?

This is a blog about saving, investing, and retiring. I use examples from my experience where helpful, but this isn’t a reality show about my daily life. Longer or more technical articles sometimes require weeks of research, culminating in a day or two of writing. And I want to keep the quality high. For the first year on this blog, I posted more than once a week on average. There are now well more than 100 articles available here. You might enjoy browsing past articles from the subject index. If it’s inconvenient to check the blog occasionally, you might try a news reader like Feedly or Pulse that can alert you when there is something new here. You can also sign up for my mailing list, and receive free updates in email. Thanks!