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Subject:  503 and a Wake Up Date:  5/16/2000  3:01 PM
Author:  readyteddy Number:  9461 of 807231

When I was in the Army back in the late 1960's and someone asked us how long we had to go before we were out, we would always say "x number of days and a wake up", the wake up being that last day, when you got up, turned in the weapon and all that other crap, got paid, signed the papers and said "AMF" to all the other guys. Don't even ask what "AMF" meant… had to be there.

I mention all this because my wife, who retired early seven years ago, asked me the other day when I was going to join her and I said "503 and a wake up!"

Five Oh Three…..hey, that's less time than I spent in the infantry beginning back in 1969. I can do Five Oh Three standing on my head!

I turn 55 in Five Oh Three and I am out of here! The way I see it, my income after taxes should be just what I am making now and my expenses are going to be at least $700 a month less. I am going to make it!

There are different ways to do this, but for those of you who cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, permit this old fool to share some of his observations on the art of the early retirement.

1. Live Below Your Means. My car is 10 years old. It looks fine, it runs fine. Can I afford a flashy car? Sure, but I would rather retire early. Remember the story about the guy who wanted a big Cadillac? He worked and worked and finally got the car. The guy worked himself to death but he didn't care, and he loved the car so much he asked to be buried in it. So the funeral procession is heading for the cemetery and someone sees the Cadillac and says "Man, that's really living!" Not for me, it's not. The time to unburden oneself of all those silly expensive habits that don't mean much in the scheme of things, is right now, this moment, today, not when we are retiring. I mean, for example, does smoking really give one $150 a month worth of "fun"? Cut down on silly expenses now and it is easier to…..
2. Save Regularly. Savings is like exercise. It's a lot more beneficial if you do it regularly, in moderation, beginning when you are young, than it is if you do it sporadically, to excess, when you are getting older. Pay yourself first, every payday. A little here, a little there over a period of time and pretty soon, you are talking real money, especially if you……..
3. Invest for the Long Term. Seven or eight years ago, my father, who was getting on in years asked me if I would look after his investments for him. I said sure. So I am looking through things, trying to decide what to keep and what to sell and I come across this mutual fund, which was not exactly a swinger. I think there was maybe $90,000 or something. I asked my dad "what did you pay for this?" He said, "$5000". I said, "When did you buy it?" He said "1969". Turns out he reinvested the dividends every year and paid the taxes. Now, 1969 to 1982 was, after the Great Depression, the second nastiest stock market in U.S. history, yet a below average mutual fund turned into an "18 bagger" between 1969 and 1992. I shouldn't have been surprised. It worked for me too.
4. Don't be House Poor. There are folks out there who have made serious money buying and selling houses. There are other