As many of you know, we are experience people versus things people. We typically spend our time and money being social, traveling and meeting new people. So, when we were invited to spend some time with Mr. and Mrs.1500 of 1500days.com we jumped at the chance. Because they had guests in town, we also spent time with the faces behind both JohnnyMoneySeed.com and MyShinyNickels.com.
We whipped together a spring orzo salad and headed to Longmont CO for a dinner party/picnic with some great personal finance bloggers and their friends. We were excited to attend. Even though we know there’s a whole world of personal finance bloggers out there and, in fact, work with several, it often feels as though we live and work in a personal finance vortex. This gave us a chance to meet others face to face who do what we do. It’s a great help financially when you spend time with others who are on the same financial path as you.
At the dinner party, we talked a lot about when each of us finally “saw the light” and got our finances in order, personal money management and personal finance blogging. We met some well-established personal finance bloggers and some just starting out. It was cool to hear about the varying degrees.
What most intrigued us was a 36 year old man who came with a personal finance blogger. He’s an IRS auditor who lives in Denver. He shared that he will retire within the next 365 days. Did you get that? He’ll retire at the age of 37!
This fascinated us and we were eager to find out how he would make this happen. He told us that when he was 18 his parents talked to him about investing in an IRA and putting aside money he earned from his part time jobs. When he got his first job out of college, at the age of 22 as an IRS agent, his parents advised him to contribute the maximum allowed into his retirement plan. They told him that if he started this before even cashing his first paycheck, he’d never feel as though he lost something by increasing his retirement contributions at a later date.
He did as they advised. He contributed the maximum allowed, $10,500 annually in 2000 and $18,000 annually today, into his government sponsored Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account. He’s maximized his retirement contributions since he was 22 years old and maintained a well-diversified portfolio.
He’s now calculated that he’ll have more than enough money to take care of himself until he’s eligible for Social Security and his government sponsored pension. He admitted he won’t have an extravagant life, but his life will be his. He won’t have to answer to someone else. He did say he was considering starting a blog, maybe even a personal finance blog, when he retires. We could all learn from him.
Of course, this made the two of us consider our past financial mistakes. We’re very happy with where we are financially. We’re on track to have a very comfortable retirement even without Debt Free Guys’ income. We’re not limited by what we can do.
Despite that, we did consider how things might be different had we been fiscally responsible at the ripe age of 22. It seems like a lifetime ago and a lot in our lives have changed over the past 19 and 22 years.
We’re happy with where we are, but a lot of that is due to seeking out and taking advantage of opportunities, hard work and perseverance. We want to share the message with all 22 year olds that our IRS auditor friend’s parents gave him. This way, more 37 year olds will have the option to choose to retire if they wish to do so.
P.S. – Consider that if you are a 22 or a 37 year old reading this article:
Had you invested $10,500 annually in a 401(k) starting in 2000 and earned a modest 7% return, your 401k account would be worth approximately $310,000 today.