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As of October 30, I will have been retired for 6 years. Most of the time I've had great fun, and I definitely do not want to go back to working for “the man”.

How did I get to FIRE?
- I maxed out my 403B (11% matching) and later my Keoghs. Luckily, my 403B allowed me to use Vanguard funds. I also invested any left over money in taxed accounts. Save at least half of each raise.

- We've always LBOMs. I didn't even know you could do otherwise. We didn't deprive ourselves (or our children), and more importantly, we didn't set our children up so they felt that they had to have everything new that came along. So they're pretty much LBYMers themselves.

- I kept a detailed budget starting about 5 years before I retired. That's when I learned that Starbucks adds up. Made me more aware of all purchases. When I was working overseas, I didn't fall into the trap of taking back loads of crystal, etc. just because it was so cheap. I don't need 20 crystal vases.

- Our house is paid off. That is a big relief. And if things really go south, we could easily relocate to a cheaper area, though it would be farther from our family.

- I did have a small inheritance. And I didn't blow it. That speeded up FIRE by a year or so. I would hear of people getting an inheritance and blowing it on a fancy car and a big trip. Yikes!

- And intercst's homepage, of course.

When did I know I had enough?
This is always hard because it's taking a big step into the unknown. Many of your colleagues and family will think you are totally bonkers, so it is hard to find true support. Luckily DH is financially savvy and supportive.

I did the analysis on the Retire Early Home Page, and I developed whatif spreadsheets for myself and played with them endlessly. I really wanted out, but couldn't see how to make it 10 years to when I could tap my IRAs (this was before I knew about TheBadger and SEPPs). DH had the radical idea of combining the assets in both my taxed and non-taxed accounts and seeing if I could live on less than 5% (a number he felt was safe). Afterall, it would all be available someday. I could: less than 4% even. Wahoo!

What I do in retirement
This is getting too long, so succinctly – I rehab birds, garden, play with my cats, exercise, shop during weekdays, write a newsletter, am on 2 boards of directors, give platelets, read, cook, and post on the REHP. I did go overboard on volunteer commitments and I am slowly cutting back on them. By next spring my volunteer activities will only be rehabbing birds, writing the newsletter and giving platelets.

This is my life, and I'm really happy with it.

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