Answering the, “How did you do it?” Question

Folks, I wish there was a silver bullet answer for this, but there isn’t, and you already know the answer. Unless you win the Mega Millions jackpot, the answer is pretty straight forward: save and invest.

I know, I know – easier said than done.  And you’re right; I know too many who are living paycheck to paycheck, or saving just enough for Christmas or the annual family vacation. I get it, I have been there myself so I know the struggle. But I also have friends who I would consider wealthy who don’t see a path to early retirement due to financial reasons.

At some point you may find yourself spending money on things other than rent/mortgage, bills and groceries. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself rich or poor; when you’ve arrived at that point, you’re ready to start making an effort at saving for retirement.

Dave and I started when we moved to Atlanta seven years ago. Instead of spending money on a new wardrobe, home renovation, fancy furniture, or designer accessories, we started saving. And saving. And saving. Initially we socked away 2% of our weekly salary for Christmas and vacations. Then every bonus and merit increase that came we saved – we became addicted to saving money. Eventually we were saving nearly 40% of our income and established a sizeable nest egg for our future. We had a very clear goal in mind: Travel. We wanted to save enough money to be able to travel nonstop for 2-3 years without having to touch our 401k or Social Security. Your goals will probably be a lot different, but the point is, have a goal.

The second part of our ability to retire early has very little to do with us or our financial expertise. We were both executives at a large telecom company that awarded stock options. We made good decisions with our options, and used that benefit to help create a portfolio of growth to help sustain us in to our elder years (Dave has already been told he will be living to 101, FYI).

My point is that, again, there is no silver bullet. When I’m asked about my “secret” I can see the anticipation in people’s faces, looking for that nugget that will free them from working life.  While there is no silver bullet, there can be a path forward.

Establish your goal, save any amount you can spare, and live within your means. That is the secret. And if you don’t reach early retirement, at a minimum, you’ll have developed a healthy practice of saving money, and a little spare cash when you need it.

Until Next Time – Stephretirement-beach.jpg




  1. Although I have not yet made the decision to retire yet, I would like to add one thing to your list. Get rid of debt.There are few things that you could ever consider “good” debt. A mortgage, as long as your interest rate is good can be one of those. If you must buy something try to do it on zero interest 12 month programs and pay it off in eleven. The easiest way to accumulate wealth is by getting rid of debt and buying only those things you “need” and minimizing the things you “want.” In time you will see the possibilities materialize.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great point. Dave and I included downsizing in to our plan, which meant reducing our mortgage and car loan debt considerably. We decided that trading in “things” for “experiences” was more important to us. We may no longer have the fancy house, but that’s ok because it means we can travel the world together, which is all we have ever wanted.


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