I’m 61 – Why I decided to retire at 46

Overview of the retreat

Irma during one of her many trips

Photo credit: Irma C.

  • Name: Irma C.
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Age: 61
  • Retired at: Tried to quit job at 45 but left at 46
  • Marital status: Life partner of over 20 years
  • Occupation: Tax lawyer and chartered accountant (CPA)

Irma has spent her career as a tax lawyer and tax manager for an international pharmaceutical company. In 2008, she decided to take what she thought was a short break from her career to assess her life and decide how she wanted to live in the future. This was the start of his retirement journey.

Decision to retire

Retirement awaits: How did you know when to retire?

Irma: My mother had died a few years before I retired. She had a massive heart attack the weekend after retiring. She was only 63 years old and still full of life. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunity to do the things she wanted to do in retirement. I was determined not to let the same thing happen to me. My sabbatical from corporate life included signing up for electrical and carpentry classes to pursue my interest in home improvement, spurred on by my addiction to HGTV. These shows featured vacation homes in different countries and piqued my curiosity to find out more, which eventually led to my first solo travel experience – visiting Nicaragua. This trip gave me the confidence to incorporate solo travel into my sabbatical plans.

Reality Retreat

Retirement awaits: What does a day at retirement look like to you?

Irma: I’m up at 6 a.m. every morning. My day starts with watching the news while planning/researching an upcoming trip or deciding on a plan for the day. My travel schedule is usually booked up to a year in advance, so I am constantly researching the destinations on my itinerary to decide how to organize my trip to maximize my time abroad. I hardly ever travel to a destination and stay in one place. My trips are open-ended, so I have the flexibility to add or change routes as I make new discoveries or discover additional sites to visit. For example, I’ll book one-way tickets and then book the return once I’m sure of my itinerary. I have also developed a love for gardening, so in the summer I spend time cultivating my urban patio garden at home.

Your pension plan

Retirement awaits: Did you have a solid plan for your retirement?

Irma: When I decided to quit my job, I paid most of my bills except for my mortgage. Although I had the money to pay off my mortgage, I chose not to because of the extremely low interest rate. Instead, I chose to invest the money and get a return above the interest rate on my mortgage. I was lucky that this strategy worked and the income paid my mortgage for many years.

The best part of retirement

Retirement awaits: What’s the best part of retirement?

Irma: There’s no better feeling than waking up in the morning and deciding exactly what you want or don’t want to do. Because travel is so ingrained in my lifestyle, if I’m not traveling, I plan a trip. It delights me endlessly.

Retirement Challenges

Retirement awaits: What is the biggest challenge in retirement?

Irma: Discovering who you are and what makes you happy is fundamental. In my case, because I spent so much of my time creating and building a career and working constantly, it was essential for me to learn what made me happy and to understand how to achieve it on a daily basis. Many people don’t know how to create the life they want because they live up to other people’s expectations and may feel unworthy of good things. It took me a while to let go of my professional identity and realize and accept that I deserved everything I worked hard for.

cost of retirement

Retirement awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? You have a budget, meet regularly with your advisor, etc.

Irma: Due to my career and financial background, I have always had a good grasp of savings, investments, tax planning, etc. Having a clear budget is a requirement and being disciplined is a necessity. This becomes even more important when you don’t have a guaranteed paycheck. Keep it simple; don’t spend more than you have and try to spend even less if you can.

As a child, I always knew the importance of money and the importance of saving more than you spend. Every Sunday I watched my father sitting at the dining room table and writing checks to pay the bills. He always had a smile on his face. When I asked him about it, he said there was no better feeling than being able to pay his bills and having some extra cash on hand. As a result, I always lived below my means, even when I could afford to live at a much higher standard. I always incorporate this approach in retirement.

retirement advice

Retirement awaits: What is the best advice you would give to someone about to retire?

Irma: Know the things that make you happy and surround yourself with those things, whether it’s friends and family, hobbies, travel, cooking, gardening, etc. In my case, it’s solo travel. But even then, you need to have something to motivate you and occupy your time while you travel. I love food, architecture and blending into the culture while traveling. I could never sit on a beach and be inactive for long periods of time, but again, you have to know what makes you happy and then pursue it.

Things that I wish I had known

Retirement awaits: What are a few things you wish someone had told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?

Irma: I didn’t know you could feel so young as you got older. My plan is to keep doing the things I love for as long as possible, whether it’s traveling or finding something else that piques my interest. I was the kind of person who always planned for the future and didn’t live in the present. Today, I’m the kind of person who stays present and takes advantage of what’s right in front of me.

Best Retirement Vacations

Retirement awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?

Irma: I have now traveled to over 90 countries so choosing a location is difficult as the world is so beautiful. But if I have to choose, I really like Portugal, Vietnam and so many places in Central and South America. I always say if bougainvillea grows there, I’ll enjoy it and so far I’ve always been right.

You are only as old as your mind will allow. I know that at some point my body is going to collapse, but until then my plan is to keep it moving until it can’t move.
You can follow Irma on her two Instagram accounts: his travels And his architectural photos.

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