I quit my day job last year. It has been wonderful. My days are my own to manage, and my health is up. Way, way up. I exercise, I volunteer, I have lost 15 lbs, and my blood pressure is down 35 points. I am happy.
I did this as a single-income, two kids and a husband family, living in Vancouver, San Francisco, and Calgary.
My secret is not that I made a ton of money (although I made a lot in the last few years), nor did I “win” at the stock market (I lost over $1ook about 8 years ago), nor that real estate paid off (only the last one has, we moved too many times to make much profit).
Nope, I did it by making it a GOAL.
I knew for about 10 years before that I wanted to stop the stress of my daily commute, the travelling and my career. I am a professional engineer, and I worked for a Fortune 50 company, a manufacturing plant, and finally a large international consulting engineering company downtown. I liked the work, loved the variety and generally had good bosses. But being a single income family, living in high cost Vancouver, with a 90 minute commute (each way) was hugely stressful for me. I snarled at the kids, was absent for my husband, and starting to have physical challenges that impacted my ability to go in to work. My ability to be a happy, healthy and positive model for my kids was suffering. Something had to change.
I had always been a saver, and BK (before kids) my husband and I had put away a lot of money, living on one salary and banking the second. Timing was on our side, and we chose to move to low cost Calgary to get a jump start (work was not plentiful in Vancouver in the 1990’s). Once kids arrived by age 30, however, all bets were off. Between updating our home, going to the single income, buying a car and BUYING ALL THE THINGS for the kids, we actually saved only $500 per year, net. I was fooling myself, and in hindsight, the money we put into our RRSPs in those years was offset by the large loans taken out for cars or home renovations. Then the stock market crashed in 2008, and we had to withdraw a large amount in 2009 when we moved to Vancouver, to buy a home. We realized a market loss of over $100k!
Around the time that my daughter turned 8, I knew that this could not go on. I started to read financial books and blogs. The most inspirational blog for me was Mr.MoneyMustache.com . A light bulb went off.
I could draw on my RRSP BEFORE I turned age 60. I could RETIRE EARLY!!
My strategy then was to double down on the saving. I needed to save for three things before I could quit.
1. I needed to pre-save my kids’ college fund in full before quitting.
2. I needed to save enough money in the retirement account, so that, when I stopped adding to it and left it alone, it would grow to the size needed by age 60 *my target date to “never work again”).
3. I needed a plan for how to live for 15 years without the day job. I needed to save money , cut expenses, or find side income to bridge the gap between quit date and age 60.