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BethCarter,

I retired in 1994 at age 38. I believe there are 3 things you need to do to safely retire at a young age.

1) Track your expenses for 2 or 3 years before you retire. Then make a budget for what you expect to spend once your retired. For example, commuting and work clothes expenses go down, golf ball purchases and green fees may increase.

2) Health insurance is probably the biggest factor that prevents people from retiring early. Individual policies are often much more expensive than the health insurance provided by your employer. Make sure you have a source for at least high deductible "catastrophic" coverage before you take the plunge.

3) Limit your living expenses to 4% of assets. If you expect to live for 50 or 60 years after you retire, inflation and the ups and downs of the stock market will take it's toll. Most of the research I've seen says a 4% inflation adjusted withdrawal is pretty safe. There's a Safe Withdrawal Calculator on the Retire Early Home Page. See:

http://home.earthlink.net/~intercst/reindex.html
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