Save. Spend. Splurge.

Age 35: Am I on track for retirement?

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about focusing my money and making sure my goals are in line with what I am doing with my money.

A few ground rules….

1. I am not uber frugal and will never be

I don’t spend money on things like haircuts (yes, I cut my own hair and love it), but then I’ll turn around and do massage and spa treatments for $250 a month.

Logical? Probably not.

I just don’t see the value in a haircut (maybe if I got a $1000 haircut I would, but then I wouldn’t pay that amount), but I do see the benefit of a good deep tissue massage to release tension and stress, AND I like having pretty painted toenails year round (this is a new lifestyle upgrade, by the way).

So I am not uber frugal. I’m selectively frugal.

2. I don’t really want to cut back on my lifestyle

Yes, I could live on beans and rice bare bones at $30,000 a year, and retire with my head shaven wearing only monk’s robes (I’m being glib here) but I don’t want to.

Frankly, I’d rather just work longer and save up more money.


I don’t hate my job. I love it.

Yes it is stressful at times but I love using my brain and solving problems, delivering results.. this is my thing. I enjoy it immensely.

Where I could cut back is I could do something like – hey, spend $500 a month on X instead of $1000 — but I am never going to make it $0.

It just isn’t realistic for me.

3. I’m really young still…

I keep forgetting this, but I am really only 35.

I have a solid 15 more years of working to retire at 50, which is a stretch goal for most folks. I completely, am 100% aware that early retirement of any kind is an elitist goal and not affordable for most folks.

Most people I talk to, are just happy if they can retire at 65 and don’t have to keep going past that age.

To talk about retiring at 50? You get looks

And to talk about retiring at 50-ish (reasonably) while maintaining my not-so-frugal-lifestyle? Yeah. Forget about it.

Plus, I don’t even know if I want to retire. Maybe I’ll just scale back to a project a year or less. Or not at all. Or part-time if that is even a possibility.

I know that at some point I will not want to be in the office or working 5 days a week. A day or two here and there would be enough but that is not really a working model that is available in my line of work.

I need to be working 5 days a week to be considered for a contract. This is sad but true.

4. I can only work 50% of the time, realistically

This is not due entirely to the fact that I don’t WANT to work, but more that the nature of the beast is that you have to (realistically) assume as a contractor that you only work 50% of the time.

So if I retire at 50, I have 15 years to go, only 7.5 of those years are billable years where actual income flows in.

If I retire at 60, I have only 25 years to save, and only half of those years are billable.

It’s a double-edged sword — on the one hand, great I get time off… on the other hand, not so great, I am nail-biting at home sometimes when the stretches of time without work drag on.

I did an analysis on how much I have worked and earned over the past 10-ish years, and my average income was $86,000 including years not worked.

5. I am avoiding being suckered into thinking a great stock pick can make or break me

It would be great if it did (like when Enercare I bought at $9-$11 a share went to $30 at a buyout), but this is not the rule. It is an exception.

The best way to have a lot of money at the end of retirement is to WORK and to SAVE IT. Period.

I understand that, and all I am trying to do is preserve capital, and appreciate it at a reasonable clip (7% – 8%) overall, taking into account dips, losses, etc.

I am also trying to diversify to not have everything in the stock market (see: Lending Loop) to rely on them 100%, which is why I have my day job (big chunk of income) and side incomes like this blog (Read: Start a Blog Like a Boss: How to make $1000 USD a month)..

So. All that said…

What are my retirement numbers?

Age Stats

  • Current age: 35
  • Retirement Age: 50-ish — up for debate; see point #3 above
  • …which means 20-ish years to retirement
  • …but only half of those years are billable — average for a freelancer; see point #4 above
  • My partner thinks I can retire in 10 years. I probably could but….. why?

$ Stats

  • Current income: Negligible. Let’s pretend $86,000 based on how much I have worked
  • Net worth: $750,000
  • Retirement $ saved: ~$272,000
  • Average savings per year: $50,000 – this includes years I have not worked as well as an average


  • Targeted retirement income required: $75,000 – let’s be generous, I’m Spendy McSpenderson
  • Considering a conservative 7% net return on my money over the next 20 years
  • Hoping to have the bulk of my portfolio as dividend-paying stocks
  • Getting zero from the government or any other sources except myself; that money would just be a nice bonus


I used this retirement calculator here because it’s pretty with the stats above…

…and it looks like I am on track if I keep banking at least $25,000 a year.

Also note: It doesn’t tell you how many years this will last because I guess they take average life expectancy rates and use that, but I have a history of long-lived folks in my background, so I could be well into my 90s by the time I go.

Now if I decide I want to retire at 50:

I am short about $150,000.


Now I drop my return on savings by 1% to 6% to be UBER conservative:

I should be good.

Basically, I need about $2 million to retire based on what I want to do.

I have about $276,000 saved, and a lot more to go, assuming I work at least 12.5 more years and bank $50,000 each of those years.

Have you done your numbers?


  • Financial Orchid

    $5MM for FI, $10MM for fatFI pour moi. #s not possible on my job alone so have you several other vehicles to assist in the lift.

  • LiNDA

    Doing some more thinking. I was considering perhaps paying ~$10K towards my mortgage just to knock off some years but not sure.

    Any thoughts?

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      What are you giving up with that $10K? Investing in the market over the longer term gives you 8% average return ..

      That said, mental peace of mind to have NO MORTGAGE is freeing even though you know you could make more money invested in the market versus clearing a 5% mortgage… you know?

      Think about how you would feel either way.

  • LiNDA

    Good stuff. Will check out the calculator.
    I want to retire early but haven’t bogged down the numbers yet. Can’t imagine doing the train in NYC when old and weak. It’s already draining!

    I’ve been trying to save $20-$25K yearly and have been successful for the last few years— yay me!

    I’d like to increase my savings to hopefully get to $50K a year but that might be challenging. Sometimes I splurge and sometimes I’m like YOLO, Who cares!
    What I do now for a balance is to ensure my day to day acct doesn’t go below $1K on any given day in a month and save majority of my 2nd chk. (Get paid bi monthly). Anything left is mine to play with :-).

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      $50K is tough to save when you have to give up… I’m finding that if I consider my plans for retirement it makes it easier to say no to a nice cashmere oversized white turtleneck … but I still sort of want it LOL

  • GYM

    My target is half yours, at around $35,000 🙂 I think you are younger than me (I’m 35 this year already).
    I don’t like my work enough to work full time, I think I would have more longevity if I worked part time.

  • Indian Thoughts

    if you want to retire at 50, you have 15 years not 25 🙂
    a math geek can’t help it 🙂

  • Gail

    I have retired at 64 and have everything I want/need. My spouse, 55 retirement age. We do not spend as you do–my haircuts cost $20-30, for example–but one of our two adult children needs lots of financial support. All along we have saved and spent on only what we value rather than on the status symbols others have had. Our kids used to ask if we had less money than friends because we drove our cars to death and did not eat out often, etc.

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