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Super idea! Retiring well on less is what we have done since February 2001. At that time, I completed 28 years of military service (the maximum I could serve at my rank) at age 52 and took an approximate 35 percent cut in pay. We have lived well since then and here's how.

1. Despite DW's severe medical problems, we have been able to keep medical expenses manageable by using a supplemental insurance I purchased while on active duty. This supplemental insurance has paid for itself many times over and having it has allowed my wife to see the physicians of her choice instead of being limited to a certain plan's list of participating doctors.

2. I have taken advantage of my disabled veteran status to lower our costs on one automobile license plate and I took advantage of a small reduction offered in the assessed value of our home. Every little bit helps.

3. We live in a relatively low cost area of Texas. Although the school taxes are outrageous, the city and county taxes are as reasonable as those type taxes can be.

4. DW supplements our income with a steady custom baking and gift basket business that she runs from our home. She barters for our haircuts, at a top salon in the city, by providing the salon a basket of home made goodies every day. DW has picked up many clients after they tasted her goodies at the salon.

5. I have a large vegetable garden. For many years, I gave away veggies to family and friends. This year, though, at the repeated urging of people to sell my produce, I went commercial. I sent information to those I thought would be interested and developed a client list. There is a charge to join the list but half of the charge is credited toward purchases. I made enough money to cover most of my expenses, which is OK by me, since I would have a garden anyway. Family and those I did not offer to be a client still get their veggies for free.

6. DW incorporates much of the garden produce into products for our use or to sell. Her tomato soup is TDF, especially when creamed. We have not purchased commercial ketchup or mayonnaise in years since DW makes both! Again, every little bit helps!

7. I drive a 1991 Mazda MPV and DW replaced her 1986 Mazda RX-7 with a Toyota Celica in 2001. Both are paid off. Our debts total about $4000 and are being paid off monthly at a zero APR (DW's dental bills and the balance of an air conditioner replacement in 2002).

What more can I tell you? We wish we had children but such a blessing was not to be. DW's physical condition limits our social life to almost nothing but we don't miss it. We enjoy our home life and interaction with family, friends, and clients. Our days are full. Oh yes. We are known as the Home For Wayward Dogs; we now have five strays or rescued doggies. Each is the best dog ever.

So, we are truly retired well on less and wish the best for others trying the same path.



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