Interview w/ My Mom Who Just Found Out She Can Retire Anytime She Wants :)

by J. Money -

mom & son sunset

My Mom: “We just met with our financial planner and she says we can retire whenever we want.”
Me: “What??? Seriously? Are you going to do it?”
My Mom: “I think so! I’m tired of working.”
Me: “Can I interview you for my blog? This is awesome.”
My Mom: “I’d love to be famous!”

That’s how a chat went down with my mother recently :) Completely out of the blue as if they’d been pondering retirement for years like we do here on this blog, haha…

But nope! She literally just found out she can retire any time she wants and then started considering it. Although it’s not very surprising as I learned almost everything I know about money from my parents – especially in frugality (I’m a lot riskier with my cash/career than they are though).

But what I love the most about this is that it shows another side to the “early retirement” game and that it’s not just for the hardcore. Yeah there are people who figured it out early and just KILLED it to be able to quit working in their 30’s (Mr. Money Mustache, Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker), but for the majority of people it’ll be a much longer path than that. And one probably closer to my parents’ than what we see in the media, or hell – even on this blog. That doesn’t mean we stop trying to hit financial independence sooner than later, just that it’s quite alright to do so in your 40s or 50s, or even early 60s, so long as you actually HIT it. No one wants to work until the end of their days!

Anyways, I called up my mom to ask her a bunch of questions on how her and my dad got to this point, and the juicy secrets are laid out below. Though spoiler alert: there are no secrets ;)

Enjoy! Parts of the interview are paraphrased so it’s easier to understand…

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First, tell my audience how old you are mom (sorry, I have to ask :))

I’m a young 59! Your father is 60.

How long have you and dad been working for?

I’ve worked on and off while raising you kids mostly part-time, but for the past 16 years I’ve been working full-time for the same company. Your father has been working non-stop since he was out of college supporting our family. (J$: my father was in the military so we moved every 2-3 years growing up which I absolutely loved!)

What was the first thing that went through your head when you found out you could retire at any time?

Excitement, and peace of mind. As well as a little bit of nervousness. Because you know – you’re retiring! – it’s the end of your working career! What if something happens and you don’t have a job now? What do you do?

Our financial advisor made it really easy to accept though and asked us what’s taking us so long. She told us we could have retired a couple of years ago which gave us the confidence to do it. I wasn’t even thinking about it – my employer started offering buy outs so I thought “let me look into this” which is why we brought it up to our planner to begin with. I’m happy I did!

Was this the plan all long, or did it kinda “just happen” as time went on?

We’ve been planning for retirement our entire working lives – saving and investing as much as we could – but we didn’t think we’d retire until we’re 65 because that’s “the time” when you normally do it. And then when we found out this info, it was like, “well why keep working?” If we’re so comfortable now, why work when I can be with my family more and my grand kids, and work in my yard, and you know – not rush around and ENJOY life. You never know when it’s going to be the end.

So did you officially put in your notice, then?

I did! I wanted to give them a few months to wrap stuff up and get a new person ready, but they asked if I could stay on for an additional month until the end of November. So I said that was fine, and starting December 1st I’ll be retired for good. Your father will keep working, but we’ll see how long that lasts!

What did you do to get to this point?

(My mom just rattled these off, so figured easier to read in bullet points than one long paragraph)

  • We invested in mutual funds
  • We put all our pay increases into investments
  • We didn’t splurge
  • We led a very meager, but comfortable life
  • We didn’t over do shopping, clothes, makeup, etc
  • We budgeted all our family trips
  • We didn’t go out to eat all the time
  • We watched what we spent
  • We were never really into material things
  • We pretended all our extra money wasn’t there
  • I didn’t buy you kids all the Nikes and Converses you wanted (J$: I remember!!! Haha…)
  • We shopped sales, compared prices
  • And we never put anything on a credit card we couldn’t pay off at the end of the month

Do you and dad feel like you missed out on anything while doing this? Any regrets?

No… I guess we’re pretty low maintenance. We’re lucky because we did so much when we were younger. We experienced college, we experienced traveling the world. We did so much before we got married, so when it came down to settling down and starting our family, we were ready. And then we traveled even more with the military.

I guess there is one thing though. All the houses we really wanted were always a little bit more than we can afford. We had the money for it, but we weren’t willing to make the sacrifice. We had cars to pay for, your college education, retirement, etc. So we always picked the 2nd best house. It would have been nice to splurge, but then who knows if we’d be here now.

How do you guys manage your money?

I’m the manager of the household budget and day-to-day operations, your dad is in charge of the investments. We have 1 main checking account with Navy Federal which everything funnels through, 1 main savings account for “wants” and other future expenses with $150 automatic transfers into it every month (we set it up 15 years ago to save for a new deck, and once we had enough we just kept it going!), 1 money market account for our “emergency fund” through Fidelity, and then our brokerage and retirement accounts: IRAs, 401(k)s, etc (also with Fidelity).

What’s more important: Earning more or spending less?

I think it depends on where you are in life. As long as you’re not sacrificing and being ridiculous (never eating out, afraid of spending $2.00 here or $5.00 there) then spending less is best I think. Having good money is important, but I’d rather spend less than have more so I can spend time with my family and not have to work my ass off (<- my mom cursed! She never curses!). I think too many people these days are keeping up with their neighbors and always upgrading technology and doing all this stuff that doesn’t really make you happy. It’s out of hand.

How much does it cost you and dad to live your current lifestyle?

We’ll probably spend $1,500-$1,700/month once we finish paying off the house. That will be done shortly with the proceeds from our rental property.

What will your income streams look like when you’re retired?

Your dad has a pension from the military which will cover our living expenses, and then I’ll have a partial one as well. If we want to take a large trip or an emergency comes up, we’ll start pulling from our investments. They should continue to grow in the meantime.

Where is the bulk of your money invested?

Most of our investments are in mutual funds and a few stocks here and there, but not many.

Did you guys have any financial role models growing up?

No, not really… I admired how much grandpa was able to travel growing up, so I really wanted to be able to do that. But I think deep down your dad and I are just natural savers. We lived paycheck to paycheck in those early years while having you kids and before dad started making more, so we weren’t always saving a lot. Once we hit our 30’s and started living on base we were able to ramp it up a lot more. (J$: My parents had us when they were in their early 20’s)

Are you worried about what you’re going to do with all your free time?

Nope. (Laughs) As long as you kids keep having grandbabies! I think I’ll be fine… Dad and I both want to take some free classes at the college, I have all my hobbies and my gardening and reading. I want to do a lot of traveling.

What’s the first thing you’re gonna do on your first “forever” day off?

Sleep in! And just really slow down and appreciate life… I’m always rushing around and I’m at the time of my life where I just want to sit here and enjoy it. I want to read, go somewhere leisurely and not rush. Maybe go to the pool and then read some more. I just want to relax and go in slow motion. And talk to God more too and try to be a better child of his.

Any last tips for my fine readers?

(She told me half of these over the phone, and then later emailed me some more :))

  • Don’t sacrifice your family in order to have more of a career and all your “wants”
  • You’ll be able to afford more later – live each stage of your life
  • Be patient. People never want to save up for things – they just want it now. And they’re never satisfied.
  • Be content with your things
  • No secret shopping behind your partner’s back
  • Be creative with your spending. You can still eat out and do fun activities but in a cheaper way.
  • Spend money on your kids (classes, musical lessons) instead of on yourself all the time
  • Help them with college (J$: My mom and dad had their school covered by their parents, so they in turn paid for ours, and now we’ll be carrying on the tradition as well for our kids. Which is why we already have two 529s going! :))
  • Go to thrift shops or yard sales to find thing you need. Why pay store prices?
  • Never make quick decisions. If possible, think about it overnight and weigh the options. Is it necessary? Is it a want or an immediately need or one that can be put off for a while?
  • Compare prices to find deals, what stores will match a sale at another store, where the best deals are for snacks, etc. Use coupons!
  • Always get second opinions when making an important decision regarding your health, people you need to hire to do jobs around the house, etc. Never take one quote – get at least 3 and ask others who they use for certain things.
  • Do things in moderation
  • Be mature with your money

Thanks mom!

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So in a nutshell, spend less than you earn, bank the rest, and then let time do it’s thing. And if you can finagle yourself a pension or two, even better :)

What I think I liked the most about this though, is that my mom didn’t have to think too long to pull the trigger. She turned in her notice within DAYS and was ready to move on to the next stage. I don’t know if I could do that so easily. I’d always be thinking of all that extra money I could earn with just one or two more years to go, even if it didn’t increase my quality of life!

That’s what I love about my mom – she’s so content and knows what’s important in life: family. I should have documented how many times she said that word in our conversation – it means everything to her! And I hope I’m smart enough to realize when it’s my time to throw in the towel too.

But for now, gotta keep on hustling and banking that money! Those dollars aren’t going to earn themselves! :)

UPDATE: My mother has officially retired!! Let’s see how it goes!

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PS: My mom also says to allow your parents to help you out in life. They love to do it and would rather do so when they’re alive than when they’re not! So let them pay for dinners every now and then! :)

[Photo of cute boy who’s not me and his mom who’s not mine by Jackel51927]

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kemkem June 8, 2015 at 5:39 am

I am in love with your mom! Such a good head and heart. I am in that category. I was also thinking the retire at 65 route. I just never really thought otherwise. After my sister’s passing and taking a good look at where we were, we came to the conclusion that with a tweak here and there, we totally could retire, and not even count social security. Way to go mom! I think she is right, let your parents help with school if they want to. I am so glad mine did. Congratulations to her!

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2 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:19 am

And congrats to you for doing some tweaking to make it happen sooner than later too! Sorry to hear about your sister – life is so quick sometimes, freaks me out :(

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3 MyMoneyDesign June 8, 2015 at 6:30 am

Great for your Mom and Dad! Their lessons are so simple and should be an inspiration to anyone who doesn’t think that retirement is possible some day.

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4 Michelle June 8, 2015 at 6:48 am

Love this interview! Congrats to your mom and dad, so amazing!

Love the tips at the end as well. They’re all so good and I’m not sure which one is my favorite. One thing more need to work on is being content with their things. It just makes life so much easier and affordable!

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5 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:22 am

Yeah, it’s amazing how different your life is when you stop wanting every single thing out there, haha… Now if only we can not want our online projects to always be growing and getting bigger 24/7! Haha… It’s so hard to be content as-is, even though what you and I and others have done are pretty good. Kids have helped me to put things in perspective more though so at least I’m not glued to the computer all the time like I used to :) That’s REALLY nice.

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6 Brian @ Debt Discipline June 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

Congrats to your mom and dad! Just some really common sense tips laid out here and now they can slow down and enjoy life a little bit more.

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7 Dee @ Color Me Frugal June 8, 2015 at 7:35 am

Congrats to your parents! Sounds like you came by your money sense from her and your dad, J$! Way to go, an inspiring read.

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8 Laurie @thefrugalfarmer June 8, 2015 at 8:04 am

LOVE this, J$! Thanks so much to your mom for sharing. Hugely encouraging and motivating! And, you are so blessed to have such awesome parents. :-)

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9 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:23 am

Thanks Laurie, I’m very blessed no doubt. They instilled some damn good lessons in us early on which I’ll forever be grateful for. I hope I can do the same for my wee lads!

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10 Kalie June 8, 2015 at 8:11 am

Congrats to your mom. What a sweet and encouraging interview. It always strikes me as ironic that we all blog about what was second-nature to previous generations. But it’s needed since so many people have strayed away from their wisdom. I love that she said to pretend the extra money isn’t there and invest it instead. That’s exactly what we mean by “pretending to be poor.”

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11 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:30 am

I know! Exactly why I love your blog name too – it’s brilliant :)

We also need to keep talking about money (especially online!) because our wiser older folk don’t talk much about it in the real world. It’s such a taboo topic still so unless you ask for guidance – which we rarely do – their nuggets of wisdom just stay in their head. Which is why I don’t get why people ignore the elderly! They’ve got tons of smarts in there just waiting to be given out!!

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12 Jeremy June 8, 2015 at 8:41 am

Awesome!

My Mom and Grandma just left town this morning after 3 weeks of visiting us in Taipei. It is pretty cool how much you learn and remember when spending so much time with the people who raised you

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13 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:33 am

Does that mean you two are now all on your own with the wee one? Ack! Haha… That was the one thing that really shocked me when we were shoved out of the hospital two days after the birth – You’re left on your own when you’ve never taken care of a human being before! So freaky! Haha… I guess that’s when human nature kicks in and you learn to figure it out :) Hope the wee one is doing well! You put dollar bills under their pillow right? To make sure they learn about $$ early?

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14 Jeremy June 9, 2015 at 12:22 am

Yes sir, we are on our own now. Fortunately we had about 2 months of help to ease the transition

Putting dollars under his pillow is a great idea! Now we just need to figure out how to get him to sleep :)

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15 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

oh, that’s easy – just hold him the ENTIRE time. You don’t need to sleep, right? :)

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16 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 8, 2015 at 8:51 am

Your mom is pretty badass.

It’s great that she’s going to have that free time after working for such a long time! I keep hearing about this “waking up without an alarm clock” thing and it seems like it would be fantastic… I can’t wait to get there!

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17 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:34 am

Blogging full-time will give you that :)

Will have to tell my mom that she’s a bad ass though – it’s been a while since the last time she’s heard that I’m sure, hah.

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18 Robin @ The Thrifty Peach June 8, 2015 at 9:15 am

I love that the first bullet point is to not sacrifice family for a better career. It’s kind of the stage I’m in now.

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19 Mrs. Budgets June 8, 2015 at 9:18 am

I love your mom’s first point about not sacrificing your family for your career. That’s the balance I am trying to find right now, definitely hard though when you’re in the beginning of your career.

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20 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:35 am

It is hard early on, for sure :( Fortunately the stages get better though!

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21 Shannon @ Financially Blonde June 8, 2015 at 9:28 am

I LOVE this!! I actually just interviewed my dad for my Father’s Day podcast because he recently reached the point of being able to retire and he’s actually your dad’s age. :-) Growing up my dad wasn’t the best financial role model because he admits he made a lot of mistakes, but once he started focusing on his money and making financial freedom a priority, he caught up and he, like your parents can now experience the joys of freedom. Congrats to your mom and dad!!

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22 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:37 am

Woo! Congrats to all our parents! The whole time I was on the phone with my mom – trying to record it all (which was a bitch, btw), I kept wishing I had our podcast up and running so we can just turn it into an episode. I really wanted to capture her enthusiasm for a lot of these topics – especially the part on how everyone’s so lazy and impatient in the world now, haha… so true!

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23 Lisa O June 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

Congrats to Mom & Dad to be able to retire at a young age! Its one thing to retire but another to be able to live the way you want and retire. Your Mom’s goals are very obtainable because she seems to enjoy the simpler things in life…..family!

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24 Tanecia June 8, 2015 at 9:43 am

This was an awesome post!! Thank you so much for sharing. It really touched me.

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25 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:37 am

Awww, I’m so glad Tanecia! Thanks so much for stopping by and telling us so :) I’ll forward your note over to my mom!

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26 Mr. SSC June 8, 2015 at 9:46 am

Congrats to your parents and loved the interview. A lot of great tips in the lower section, especially don’t sacrifice time with family for your career and wants. This is our big driver to achieve FIRE. We feel like we give too much time to our jobs and not enough with family.

When we hit that date in another 3 years, I’ll be like your mom and pull the trigger as soon as possible. Mrs. SSC though will probably be a bit more restrained debating the added cushion of working a few more months.

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27 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:39 am

Oh man, only 3 more years to go? That’s brilliant! Congrats!! And a few more months is a lot better than a few more *years* which a lot of people get sucked into. I have a feeling my wife will continue to work once it’s our time too for a bit. Especially since she just got her PHD and is only now starting her career, haha… Though I’d love to just tell her “You can stop – we’re all good now!” :)

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28 Mark Zoril June 8, 2015 at 9:48 am

Nice story! What struck me is what your parents indicated their monthly budget would be. At that budget, with social security and some additional savings, many people could get by. However, the financial services industry scares people into thinking that they well over $1 million dollars to even have a chance. They act like every person in America wants to travel the world and have two or three vacation homes. It is always better to have more, but many can get by on modest amounts in their savings if their expenses and budget are under control.

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29 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:41 am

Yes – TRUTH. It really does come down to your average monthly expenses which will vary wildly amongst people. Especially depending on travel and other niceties of life. And while I’m pretty sure my parents have well over a million dollars invested (I’ve never seen the #’s but I know how conservative they are), they could still very easily live off of pensions and THEN SS and all that too.

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30 Amy @ DebtGal June 8, 2015 at 10:02 am

Great interview! I love how the wisdom is all really very simple, but still tough for some people to follow. Congrats to your parents!!

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31 Savvy Shopper June 8, 2015 at 10:07 am

Your mom is the perfect role model!! I hope she and your dad (when he gets there) enjoy retirement to the fullest!!!

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32 Alexander June 8, 2015 at 10:14 am

Your mother’s last tips for readers are EPIC!! Seriously that is a wise woman right there. You’re lucky to have parents that can retire early. My poor folks are still busting their butt to this day. Hopefully Ill be able to take care of that problem for them some day.

This also really stood out to me that your Mom said “We pretended all our extra money wasn’t there”. I wish everyone had that mentality, it would be so much easier to save and put away for investments. This is exactly what I do with the income I get from my rentals. I just pretend its not there and when it accumulates enough to buy another, I pull the trigger. Repeat cycle!!

Good read!

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33 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

Nice! Having a system in place like that to just “repeat the cycle” is key too. The people who get themselves in trouble are those without a plan for their $$! You gotta know what you’d do with it FIRST before you get it so you don’t start sending it all over the place in fake plans.

I hope you’re able to help your parents out as well once it’s time – that’s not a fun position to be in at that stage of life :(

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34 H June 8, 2015 at 10:14 am

Congratulations to your mom! HOwever they are in a situation that my generation will NEVER be in – relying on a pension to pay your living expenses.

Sure you can do everything right (like they also did.. i’m not discounting that at all) but if you have the pension, the rest is just a cushion

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35 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:46 am

Yes, pensions def. help out more. Which is why it’s imperative to get that $$ on track early on and get it growing/earning passive income so by the time retirement comes it’s all good and ready for you. And pensions are still around for the military fyi – just not everyone wants to join :) I’m pretty sure my parents could still retire without this stream though knowing the little I do about their investments.

I think the bigger key here is keeping your monthly expenses low. You need a lot less to retire on at $1,500/mo than you do at $5,000+ a month like my family currently does – hah!

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36 Jack June 8, 2015 at 4:52 pm

+1 for the pension impact.

My father retired at 50 from a career as a college professor with a full pension, medical, and COLA. Very similar in value to military benefits after putting in your 20.

Too late for me to pursue either path, so I have to pay our own way to retirement. We’ll make it, one way or another. But I wonder at times if we’ll make it as a country with so many people working their entire lives to retire to poverty.

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37 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:35 pm

It’s def. scary out there :( Which is good we’re all learning now so WE can help continue to spread the word too! Esp with our own online communities here…

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38 Debbi June 16, 2015 at 5:02 am

You can buy a Lifetime Guaranteed Monthly Income annuity which acts like a pension. We’re buying a small one now that will give us $500 a month for life once we retire. It continues until both of us die.

An old family friend lives off of several annuities he set up years ago. He’s now 85 but his 60 year old wife will receive the same monthly income for the rest of her life if/when he passes. They both worked at Prudential & being married 33 years, they invested heavily in annuities.

Congrats. J$ to your parents! Now they’ll have more time to visit you & the grandkids.

Advice to young people: a major step in life is choosing the right partner to team up with. Prior divorces cost me & my current husband dearly! Trying to build back now what we lost!

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39 J. Money June 16, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Amen to that! If only our hearts were as smart as our heads at times ;)

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40 Hannah June 8, 2015 at 10:38 am

I love the tip- You’ll be able to afford more later- live each stage of your life. Each stage of life has it’s own complications and it’s always tempting to want to jump straight to the next one (let’s just build our custom house instead of fix one up), but there is a lot of wisdom to being content with what you have and enjoying life now, even if there is still more that you want.

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41 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:48 am

YES! And then you speed up life too always trying to get to the next step and not appreciating what you have! Which is a lot easier to say than do, of course, but still the truth :) This was one of my favorite posts to write on the topic recently – maybe you’ll like it?

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2015/03/money-saying-rather-be-young/

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42 Done by Forty June 8, 2015 at 10:49 am

Such a cool story to share. Thanks, J Money. I worry about both of my parents’ retirements, so it’s heartwarming to hear about someone who has done it this way.

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43 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:49 am

It’s good they have YOU as a son! You can help steer them (if they let you?).

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44 Fervent Finance June 8, 2015 at 11:16 am

Wow this is awesome. Congrats and great work! Very inspirational. Now I know where you got your FI savvy!

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45 GE Miller June 8, 2015 at 11:31 am

Momma $ sounds awesome! Sounds like you have a great role model and example to follow. Interesting how she handles the budget and your dad handles the investments. I would expect that it’s usually one person handling everything or both handling everything together vs. separation of duties.

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46 Will @ Phroogal June 8, 2015 at 11:37 am

$1,500-$1,700/month with no house payment… awesome!!!

And wth, J$. I thought you were their financial planner. ;)

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47 J. Money June 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

Hah – no way. Separation of church and state, my friend. Plus, I hate details and estate planning/yada yada yada. I am their executor though for when those fateful days come… bleh, scary!

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48 Mary June 8, 2015 at 11:40 am

I’m a longtime reader, but this might be my first comment. I absolutely loved this interview. I admire the extreme early retirement mindset, but it’s just not really my style. My husband and I try to make the best decisions with our money, but we are also happy with our current lifestyle. It’s important to us to enjoy every stage–we have a little girl and are expecting a boy in September so this is definitely a fun and crazy time in our lives. Most importantly, we want to be content and also teach our kids how to work hard and be content. Your mom is a smart woman and I really like how her priorities were so clear in all of her decisions. Definitely something I hope to achieve!

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49 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Thanks so much for taking the time to write, Mary! And congrats on your soon-to-make-an-appearance baby boy! Ours just turned 1 and our eldest boy (almost 3) is having a blast with a new buddy to play with :) I hope your two will love each other the same.

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50 Kayla @ Add-Vodka June 8, 2015 at 11:42 am

I love the interview with your mom, she seems very wise with her money. Congrats to her on retiring! :)

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51 Our Next Life June 8, 2015 at 11:45 am

Nice interview. Good for your mom! (And for you!) And so true — DO let your parents pay for dinner sometimes! :-)

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52 Alicia June 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Your Mom is awesome :) I think it’s great that she accepted your interview request, and did such a great job at it! I love that she gave work 4 or 5 months notice and then she’s DUN (*intentionally misspelled*). Sounds like your kids are in for even more grandparent spoiling in the near future!

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53 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Oh yeah! And US too if it means we can get out on dates again! :)

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54 tracy June 8, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Another military brat here who has parents who retired “early” and boy does your mom sound eerily like my parents. Like others here I’m going to chime in – listen to your mother and let them buy you dinners once in a while. It gives them joy and only a rotten child would steal joy from Mom if she can afford to do what she is offering! ;-)

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55 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Haha… I like the way you put it better.

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56 Mrs. Frugalwoods June 8, 2015 at 1:07 pm

That’s awesome. I love your mom! Everything she said about living frugally but still enjoying life and putting family first is 100% how I feel too. And, they are super frugal–$1,500-$1,700/month for two people is fabulous. Congrats to your parents–it really comes across that they’ve had a great marriage and are enjoying life! Thank you for this!

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57 Noonan June 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm

What a wonderful interview! Now that your mom has more time on her hands, maybe you can convince her to write a few guest posts! :)

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58 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:40 pm

She already wants to make another appearance after she’s officially retired for a “check in” :) I think that would be interesting to see how it compares with how she *thinks* it’ll be right now. I should also get my dad to chime in – he’s actually hilarious! Who knows what tips he’d drop :)

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59 Nicola June 8, 2015 at 1:59 pm

This is an awesome post – what a lovely thing to share with us all :)

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60 Amber Tree June 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

What an encouraging story to read. All the best to your parents.
There are some good lessons for everybody. But a lessons via a story is so much better.

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61 Tawcan June 8, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Congrats to your parents, I really enjoyed reading the interview. :)

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62 Dude on a Mission June 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

J! That was an awesome interview…seriously I loved it. Your mom seems like a fantasitc parent and role model. And your parents’ attitudes toward money and material objects sound shockingly similar to what my wife and I practice.
I grew up in a family with a borderline hoarder who had no financial discipline or plan (still love that person of course). I unfortunately continued that tradition until I had an epiphany one day. I changed most everything about my life in a matter of months and I am so much happier now. My hope is people can realize that Stuff is an obstacle, an enemy in fact, holding them back from living more meaningful lives.

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63 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Oh wow – that’s a hard thing to break too! Good for you for realizing it and turning around the ship!

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64 Nicole June 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm

This was a nice interview with good take aways BUT at 59, your mom is a boomer which means she lived through some pretty good times. You didn’t mention this in the interview but some thing to note would be her starting wage 16 years ago compared to today and if she bought and sold a home during the boom. Millenials will not benefit from the same “income boosts.”

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65 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Hah – there are pros and cons to ALL generations. Spending wisely transcends everything.

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66 Elise @ Simply Scaled Down June 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Wow! Go Mama Money!!

I love hearing stories like this, it makes me hopeful for my retirement. I love it when I hear of people retiring and doing it in their own ways. I also love the end when she says not to sacrifice your family for money. So many people we know work insane hours, constantly traveling and never see their children or their spouses…all so they can have “the big house” or the boat, or all the gadgets. I would much rather see my husband and watch our money….at the end of my life I will be begging for more time not more money so I want to use the time I have as wisely as possible.

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67 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:44 pm

“At the end of my life I will be begging for more time not more money so I want to use the time I have as wisely as possible.” – YES! Well said!

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68 Heather June 8, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Congrats to your mom! I love her perspective…no secrets or fancy “get rich quick” schemes…just common sense and maturity with money!

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69 Even Steven June 8, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Good Work Mom! I see so many things that we call financial tips and tricks, that your parents just call common sense. Fun to read and get to know some of why J. Money is who he is……….Mohawk and your Dad’s in the military:)

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70 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

His friends got a good laugh at that growing up :) Although then I didn’t have a mohawk – I had pink, blue, red, green, purple and all kinds of other mixtures of hair. As long as I didn’t get into trouble or do drugs he didn’t care though. Which I love! (The deal – not the trouble or drugs which I actually did stay away from, haha…)

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71 [email protected] of Investing June 8, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Amazing isn’t it, how living with the right priorities and values just makes the money side of things work so naturally! Really happy to hear this story J Money, thanks to you and your mom for sharing.

From someone who is right on top of their money and tracking their progress towards FI, like many of us here, it’s always so surprising to hear about people who can retire but never even realized it!

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72 [email protected] June 8, 2015 at 7:21 pm

The old “interview your mom” post! This is great advice! Sounds like an awesome mom.

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73 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Your mom’s up now!

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74 Adam @ AdamChudy.com June 8, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Congrats to her! When most people don’t save at all, being able to do so securely in her 50’s is quite the accomplishment.

I wish my parents had taken some of that advice.

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75 Emily @ evolvingPF June 8, 2015 at 7:54 pm

WOW there is so much wisdom and peace in your mother’s words! Congratulations to her!

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76 Darrell June 8, 2015 at 8:01 pm

I almost envy that your parents discovered, “whoopsie daisy…we can retire!” I’m at the opposite end of that spectrum. Not only do I have a retirement plan, but I have a plan A, B, C and (wait for it…) D! For each plan, I have calculated what the net present value will need to be at each age. Who cares how much I need in investments in 7 years to retire in 15? I do…and I wish I didn’t care.

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77 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:50 pm

That’s an interesting perspective actually. I tend to get hardcore about numbers and freedom and all that too – it’s rather consuming at time. On the other hand, I bet we hit ER a lot sooner than *not* thinking about it ya know? At which point we better be able to shut it off and enjoy! :)

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78 Darrell June 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Good point. My saving grace is that I’m really enjoying life in the meantime. I feel bad for those that feel like they are struggling day-to-day to hit a goal a decade, or more, down the line.

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79 Harmony @ creatingmykaleidoscope June 8, 2015 at 8:51 pm

It must be very reassuring to know that your mom will be able to take care of herself. I worry about what will happen with my mother’s finances in the future – I think she’s close to declaring bankruptcy for a second time. I know I’m not the only one who is concerned about their parents needing help as they get older.

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80 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Oh no, I’m sorry to hear! I’m sure you’re right that there’s a lot of parents out there in a financial mess :( I just hope they figure it out sooner than later so they have time to do something about it!

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81 Dividend Mantra June 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm

J$,

Your parents have it all figured out. That’s awesome, man. Not only do you not need to worry about them as you and your family do your own thing financially, but you get to see the bliss that awaits you. So glad you have some parents with great financial sense. I wasn’t so lucky, but I guess it takes all kinds.

Best regards.

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82 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm

I would love to feature your story – and success! – here anytime, my man. It always blows me away, and I’m sure my readers would get a lot out of it as well :) You have an open spot!

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83 [email protected] June 8, 2015 at 10:57 pm

It sounds like your parents are great role models. She must enjoy her job enough that she hasn’t been counting the days until she can walk away, but how nice to know you can leave when ready.

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84 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank June 9, 2015 at 7:38 am

Like mother like son. Congratulations! If I were her, I would still continue working as long as I can do it so that I’d have more money for retirement and get a better retirement life. That sounds so good right?

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85 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm

I think you missed the point :)

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86 Christine @ The Pursuit of Green June 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Yea Mama J$!!!! Congratulations on early retirement!

That’s awesome to hear that your parents get to retire early! My parents are around the same age and are set to retire in a few years. My dad right on time, my mom a bit early so that they can retire together. I’m not sure exactly what they’ll do though other than drive each other nuts! My dad will try to tear down the entire house and fix it, my mom will want to travel.

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87 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Hah! Tell your dad to come over here and help me build a house for scratch :) That’s on my bucket list to do one day. I just think it would be so cool to say you’ve done that! (And I’m the opposite of handy, but I figured I would learn a lot after that, right?)

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88 Mr Zombie June 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Ayoooooooo!! Awesome work on looking forward to it Momma J! (Rather than fearing it as so many seem to do)

“I guess there is one thing though. All the houses we really wanted were always a little bit more than we can afford. We had the money for it, but we weren’t willing to make the sacrifice.” – this is amazing advice. The amount of my mates that look to buy a house and choose the one that “maxes” out what they can afford. Working for the next 30 years just to pay off a home that is a bit nicer? No thank you.

Mr Z

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89 J. Money June 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Exactly. I was one of those mates too more or less 8 years ago – so glad I wised up!

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90 EL June 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

One of the best interviews in the PF blog world Ive read. Really helps sum up the feelings around retiring and how to get your money life in order. Next is interviewing Father J. Ha Good one J. keep them coming.

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91 J. Money June 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Oh wow, thanks for the kind words man! So glad you liked it! :)

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92 Gary @ Super Saving Tips June 10, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Great interview! Especially the tips at the end. There was a point in my life where I was working too hard (had to get those wants) and my relationships suffered. It was a painful lesson, but one I was able to move past. Life’s much better now. Hope your parents enjoy their retirement!

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93 J. Money June 12, 2015 at 11:35 am

I’m glad man! Way to realize it and overcome!

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94 Mrs. FI June 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

Congrats to your mom! That’s so awesome she just kind of…fell into retirement without even trying/stressing about getting there as soon as possible. I find that kind of contentment with life (no matter what stage) inspiring and hope I can get there one day! It was lovely to hear someone’s story that’s isn’t the norm in our FIRE community – Thanks!

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95 J. Money June 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

Yeah – and super weird, but interesting, to pick your own mom’s brain too. We’ve really never gotten into it like we did here and was fun to hear her perspective on things. Especially since I grew up around it all and didn’t even realize why we did things the way we did. I wanted all those fancy clothes/electronics/shoes etc growing up! Haha…

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96 Master Nerd June 11, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Such a heartfelt story! The simplicity of their approach speaks volumes to just how one can live a fulfilling life while saving up for retirement. It also doesn’t seem like money was ever an overly stressful part of her life. Sure she mentions living paycheque to paycheque for a while, but beyond that it sounds like they just stuck to their formula and let time do it’s thing. I wish my parents were more relaxed about money growing up. Sure they saved a lot and are now 10 years into retirement, but I feel like they sometimes sacrificed a little more then they needed. Money became the be all end all factor that influenced nearly every minor and major decision they made. It sounds like your mom/dad found a good balance of being thrifty, but not sweating every dollar if it meant sacrificing life experiences. Congrats to her!

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97 J. Money June 12, 2015 at 11:39 am

Thanks man :) We can all hope to find the right balance in our lives, right? Not always the easiest to do but I feel like we get better as the years progress when we stay focused.

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98 Nate June 16, 2015 at 6:57 am

I commented on twitter, but wanted to comment here also. This was a great interview and gives me lots of hope to make it out at 53. I feel like that’s a little on the older side of things, but it beats 59 1/2. Taking the lessons/wisdom from this interview and applying them should give us an opportunity at a great future. No debt, budget, and save aggressively , you’ve just have to be strong enough to apply these tools and they will pay off. Great job J$!

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99 J. Money June 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

It’s just good that you/me/everyone here figured it out whenever we did! Much better to work on it now than when we’re already IN our 60s and trying to figure it out :( I get a lot of emails from people in retirement age that feel completely helpless now. It’s incredibly sad.

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100 Jon @ Money Smart Guides June 18, 2015 at 10:50 am

The best part is her admitting to living “a meager, but comfortable life”. We can get by with so much less stuff, but we think we NEED to have the latest iphone or a new car every 5 years, etc. If we just make some small sacrifices, we can completely change our financial lives. I mean, will it really kill you to drive your 4 year old car another 5 years? If it looks bad, spend $20 and get it washed and waxed. It’s a lot cheaper than $30K for a new one!

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101 TJ December 2, 2015 at 9:13 pm

I’m curious how you ended up with so many accounts with USAA when your parents seem to use a lot of Navy Federal. I feel like Navy Fed has better credit cards, but USAA has recently revamped their offerings too…

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102 J. Money December 7, 2015 at 10:43 am

They may be better in that category, not sure, I just love having all my accounts under one main roof :) My parents started using them for car insurance back in the day, so when I started driving I ended up signing up with them too. Then as the years – and phases – went by, I’ve slowly opened up more and more accounts with them. Everything from savings to checking to property insurance, home equity lines, umbrella insurance, credit cards, and at one point investment accounts (now I’m exclusively with Vanguard). Besides the all-under-one-roof part, what I love the most is their customer service. They’re SO GOOD!! And from what I hear Navy Federal ain’t too shabby either (I’ve just never poked around ’em).

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103 Kevin December 8, 2015 at 12:14 am

Good for them. Nice comments which everyone should follow.

However, people should not let a financial planner tell anyone “you can now retire”. Folks themselves need to make this decision from 25+ years of saving/budgeting and then have planner review to confirm.

The nice thing with the military is the pension and nice subsidized health insurance for you and the spouse for life. Thanks for your service.

Enjoy the retirement life!

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104 J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm

For sure… Gotta make the decision to retire yourself, of course, but having a planner confirm that they think it looks okay based on the #’s (vs emotion) is always a plus :) My parents have been saving for their whole lives but didn’t realize/think about retiring early until that fateful meeting.

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105 Jeff December 8, 2015 at 7:19 am

I just linked to this page from Yahoos front page, took me to the business insider where this article was. Kinda neat to see it there.

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106 J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

I loved seeing it there too! :) My mom is ecstatic, haha…

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