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I'm 33 and realized I needed to start saving pretty much immediately after I finished law school. At that point, my IRA from previous years just about equalled my debt. I probably saved 95 percent of my disposable income after living expenses for the two years I had my first lawyer job in Boston. Then I did the same thing for two years in Seattle. And then the same thing for one year in Billings. Then I decided I'd had enough of being a law-firm lawyer.

Now I work for a local bank in their trust department - I still save a lot, but the money isn't as good as lawyer money was. Still, I think my life is better.

I'm about a quarter of the way to where most of the calculators say I ought to be to retire, but the reality is that I think I could do it now if I really really had to. I'm not averse to doing all kinds of cost-cutting measures, from living cheaply abroad to sacrificing nearly every consumer desire there is.

My real fear is that I've recently married, and while my wife is just as frugal as I am, I wonder what will happen if we have kids. I see children as a big wildcard in figuring out how much money one needs to retire early.

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