Recommendations: 10
Good choice to post on the FIRE board :)
Starting at ground 0, I figured that the fastest I could retire would be 20 years. So you're right about there. The main problem I would see is that you're a bit below ground zero, due to the debts involved :)
First, I would suggest trying out the "Firecalc". I believe it is located here:
http://www.fireseeker.com/
That should help you do some calculations.
In general though, I would suggest starting backwards.
1. I assume you're picking 56 partially because you assume you will have the kids out of the house. Then you need to figure out how much you & your husband will spend.
2. Guess how much you & your husband could live on per year. Lets call that $40,000.
3. Check to see when your house would be paid off (hard to retire while paying a mortgage). Might need to speed up those payments.
4. Since your fire date is 20 years from now, you will need to count inflation into the amount you'll need per year.
Inflation calculator: http://www.calculatorweb.com/calculators/inflationcalc.shtml
Lets say 4% inflation. The calculator says you'll need $87k per year in 20 years.
5. Multiply how much you'll need by 25 (that is a magic number you'll learn. Most people here assume you can withdraw 4% per year from your money. Takehome = X * .04. Multiply 25 on each side, and you get Takehome = 25X. So $87k * 25 = ~$2.2 million. So you need to save in 20 years approximately $2.2 million.
6. Pick a return % you think your money will make in investments. Assuming you invest in something that has a reasonable chance for growth (50% total stock market, 25% international, 25% REIT or something like that), I would pick a number like 7% (before inflation).
7. I would then use a spreadsheet to calculate about how much you would need to invest every year (if you're consistant) to hit that number. It's a pretty easy calculation, and you can always download OpenOffice (free, what I use) to figure out the numbers. I reached $53,500 per year.
So that's a pretty big leap, taking my random guesses at your number. Saving $53k per year could be a bit of a stretch to say the least. Now, we can change a lot of things.
Change inflation to 3% (need to spend $72k in 20 years) Change what you need to 30k per year (need to spend $54k in 20 years) 25 x 54k = $1,350,000 Change return rate to 8%: Now you need to save $29,500 per year
Finally change your FIRE date from 20 to 25 years: Now you need to save $18,400 per year
What I personally do is keep a spreadsheet with all these calculations, our current balances, etc. I have one row per year, up until I'm 55. I update all the balances once in awhile to see where I'm at. This also changes when my "cash balance" passes my "fire balance".
So this is certainly something you can do. It's all up to you. If you cut your expenses (a large issue you'll notice), save a bit more, you will have control over your FIRE date.



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