Let’s set the record straight.
We are not millennials. Neither of us earn super-high salaries. We share no ambition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro nor do we wish to create our own empire.
We are just two average Gen Xers looking to retire by the age of 55. And what we desire is simple: Financial Independence
- We both want to be able to sleep soundly at night and not worry about things like jobs, bills, and the cost of healthcare.
- We want to be able to enjoy our retirement and not have to worry about running out of money.
Truthfully, things have gotten better over the years. Especially since we’ve adopted a frugal lifestyle. But unlike the Frugalwoods, our desire to become frugal was born out of necessity, not desire.
Our finances were once an EPIC DISASTER!
We were constantly short on cash, sinking in credit card debt, and struggling to meet the mortgage payments. Our lives didn’t fit neatly into a little box. I wasn’t able to work my way down a checklist and know things were perfectly aligned. In truth, it was a challenging time for us.
But after a few years of hard work and a multitude of financial sacrifices, we were finally free of credit card debt. Then, we took it a step further and embraced frugality and left behind the consumerist mindset. We still have our mortgage debt, however, but we are now in a much better place financially.
The reason why I’m sharing all of this is because if we do achieve financial independence, it won’t be because we got lucky or happened upon a windfall. It will be because we rolled up our sleeves and persevered.
Therefore, we must ask the question –
Is it possible to achieve financial independence and retire by 55 if we are just average?
- Mr. FE earns an annual salary of $78,000 as a sales manager. If he performs well and meets some strategic goals, he may earn an annual bonus.
- I, Mrs. FE earn a big fat ZERO.
- We currently have a mortgage balance of $143,627.15.
- We live in New England, a high cost of living area.
By the time we max out Mr. FE’s 401(k), deduct the taxes, health/dental and other benefits, we are down to a net salary of around $43,160. Not broke, but considering the HCL area we live in, not great either. This breaks down to around $3600 per month.
Like I said, we’re just average.
After we factor in some of our routine expenses; the mortgage on our smaller than average home, utilities, maintenance, transportation, clothing, food, and health costs – we are left barely in the black.
This is after Mr. FE cuts his own hair. I make my own lattes. We ditch going out to eat. Shop in bulk. Cook mostly vegan meals. And other cost saving strategies.
Understand, we are NOT complaining about our place in life. In fact, compared to many others we have it pretty good and are more than grateful. We also know that life is what you make it and respect hard work.
But to answer the above question, is it possible to achieve financial independence and retire by 55 if we are just average?
A resounding YES!
Because our financial requirements when we retire will also be average. We won’t need exotic vacations, lavish things or meals out. Our lives will be equal to where we are today, so we won’t need a higher income. We are happy with the status quo.
And you know what?
In the end, we are perfectly fine with being just average. So if we struggle to save a dollar here or a penny there, and we progress slower than many others, we’re okay with it. We’ll reach our goal of financial independence nonetheless.