Can FIRE Help You Retire Early?


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If you’re like many people, you’d jump at the chance to retire early with plenty of time and money to pursue the lifestyle of your dreams. While accumulating enough wealth by 65 or 70 to last your lifetime is challenging, early retirement is an incredibly ambitious goal.

This post will review the FIRE movement, which stands for financial independence, retire early. You’ll learn several strategies to become financially free and pursue your unique retirement dreams.

What is FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early)?

The FIRE movement began with an emphasis on being extremely frugal so you could invest as much as possible and retire as early as possible. But that’s just one version of FIRE. The movement has expanded to different strategies based on the type of financial freedom or lifestyle you want. 

Here are several variations of FIRE to consider based on your financial situation and goals.

  • Traditional FIRE: As I mentioned, traditional FIRE means being frugal early in your career and retiring as soon as you have enough assets to cover your living expenses. For instance, you could save 30% of your income in your 30s and 40s and retire comfortably by age 50.
  • Lean FIRE: This strategy is for those willing to adopt an incredibly frugal or lean lifestyle now and in retirement. You save and invest aggressively to retire as early as possible. You’re eager to live on the bare minimum and then continue a minimalist existence in retirement. 

For instance, you might save 50% of your income in your 20s and 30s and retire by age 40 with a modest income. While you might not be able to enjoy a luxurious retirement, lean FIRE gets you there sooner.

  • Fat FIRE: Going fat means prioritizing saving and investing without significant financial sacrifices. You also want your comfortable lifestyle to continue in retirement. So, fat FIRE means you need to save and invest more than with a lean approach. 

For instance, you might save 20% of your income in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s and retire by age 60. Working longer allows you to grow a larger nest egg that throws off more income for life. Your retirement goal is to enjoy almost any expenses, like luxury travel, shopping, and dining out.

  • Barista FIRE: This is a strategy where you save and invest enough to retire from your full-time and perhaps stressful job to do another type of work. Your assets may provide some income, but more is needed to retire fully. So, instead of retiring, you use your financial independence to work part-time, create a business, or pursue a more fulfilling but less lucrative job. 

For instance, you might save 30% of your income in your 20s and 30s while working a high-paying job and become a teacher, freelancer, or barista in your 40s. Replacing your day job with a more relaxing career may be your idea of retirement. Depending on when you plan to retire fully, you might continue saving 10% of your income.

  • Coast FIRE: This strategy requires you to save and invest fairly aggressively early in your career but then scale back or stop. The idea is to make financial sacrifices when you’re young and can more easily live below your means. You accumulate assets that will grow for decades while you make small or no additional contributions. 

For instance, you might save 40% of your income in your 20s, 30% in your 30s, 5% in your 40s, zero in your 50s, and coast into retirement by age 60.

5 Steps to Achieve FIRE

If you think that early retirement sounds nice but you’re getting a late start investing or couldn’t come close to saving half your income, you’re not alone! While the FIRE movement is not for everyone, it can help you see what’s possible and forge your own financial path.

Ideally, everyone should aim for early retirement. Then, if you have the inclination and health to continue working into your 60s, 70s, and beyond, you can build even more financial security.

Here are five steps to make your preferred version of early retirement possible.

Calculate your savings target.

To know if and when you can retire, first calculate how much savings you’ll need. It depends on factors including your:

  • Retirement age
  • Planned spending 
  • Earnings during retirement
  • Pre-retirement average investment return
  • Post-retirement average investment return
  • Estimated inflation rate
  • Taxes

Start by adding up your living expenses, such as housing, food, insurance, medical bills, and transportation. While some costs end in retirement, such as saving and commuting for work, others, such as travel and health care, may go up. You can’t know precisely what you’ll spend in the future, but try to calculate a reasonable estimate.

The earliest you can begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits is 62. So, until then, your savings, investments, and any pensions must generate all your income. A good rule of thumb is to have a nest egg equal to 25 to 30 times your annual expenses.

For instance, if you spend $100,000 annually, you’ll likely need $2.5 million to provide that much income. A typical retiree can safely withdraw 4% of their investments annually without running out of money. 

However, early retirees may need to withdraw less, such as 3%, to make their money last. Depending on how early you want to retire, having $3 million may be necessary. Of course, whether you want a lean or fat lifestyle is a huge factor! Since retirement planning math can be complicated, working with a financial advisor is the best way to create an early retirement savings plan. 

You might also like episode 825 where Laura reviews ten costly misconceptions about investing that you should never believe. Listen in the player below:

Invest consistently.

I know accumulating millions may seem daunting, but the trick is investing early and consistently for as long as possible. If you haven’t started, please don’t wait for the “right” time to invest because it doesn’t exist. 

No matter what’s happening in the financial markets, your money can’t grow if you sit on the sidelines. Every day of investment growth matters, especially when you want an extra-large nest egg to retire early.

Set up an automatic investing schedule, such as daily or monthly. Some investing platforms can even automate your savings increases so they happen on specific dates. Also, invest more for retirement when you earn a raise or bonus or receive a cash gift. 

Early retirement is an aggressive goal you must attack with gusto. It won’t be easy—but it’s possible.

Minimize investment taxes.

As you know, taxes take a big bite out of your income. To keep more money and protect future investment earnings, cut your taxes using tax-advantaged accounts, such as workplace retirement plans, IRAs, and health savings accounts (HSAs). 

Your contributions are tax-deductible with a traditional retirement account (such as a traditional 401(k), IRA, or SEP-IRA) or HSA. If you have access to a Roth 401(k) or IRA, you pay tax upfront on contributions but get tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Having tax-free accounts to withdraw from in early retirement leaves you with more money to ​​spend.

Know the retirement withdrawal rules.

The only downside of using tax-advantaged accounts is that tapping them before 59.5 typically comes with a 10% early withdrawal penalty. The good news is that there are legit ways to avoid the penalty if you retire early.

The first option is to use a Roth account, which allows you to withdraw your contributions tax and penalty-free, making them excellent options for early retirees. 

However, your investment gains in a Roth would be subject to income tax plus the 10% penalty if you’re under 59.5.

Another option applies if you have a workplace retirement plan and decide to retire at age 55 or later. If you are no longer employed, you can use the “rule of 55” to take penalty-free withdrawals from your 401(k) or 403(b).

For specific government workers, this exception can apply as early as age 50. However, note that this rule doesn’t apply to IRAs, only to workplace plans and solo 401(k)s.

Use a 72(t) payment plan.

There’s also a little-known rule for avoiding the early withdrawal penalty regardless of age called a 72(t) distribution or payment plan. It allows you to distribute equal monthly or annual distributions from your retirement account if you’re retired. 

The amount you can withdraw using a 72(t) plan gets calculated using factors such as your account balance, age, and life expectancy. The payment calculation can be based on the amount in a single retirement account or the aggregate of all your accounts.

The problem is that a 72(t) has restrictions and negative consequences if you don’t use it correctly. It’s important to understand that once you begin taking 72(t) distributions, you can’t stop taking them for at least five years or until you turn 59.5, whichever is longer. In other words, if you start a 72(t) at age 50, you’d have to continue payments for 9.5 years.

After you complete a series of five-year distributions or reach age 59.5, you can take retirement distributions any way you like. When properly executed, 72(t) payments can be a smart way to tap your retirement funds early without penalty. However, figuring out the allowable payment schedule is complex, so get help from a qualified tax professional to avoid potential taxes and penalties.

Whether you join the FIRE movement or not, the sooner you start investing, the earlier you can retire and pursue the lifestyle of your dreams.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Senior Move Managers: Role, Cost, & Why You Need Them

Senior Move Managers: Role, Cost, & Why You Need Them

Senior move managers, or senior relocation specialists, help elderly adults transition to smaller homes and senior living communities by helping them downsize and organize. They can arrange professional packing, help you choose a realtor, provide emotional support to seniors and help them arrange their belongings after the big move. Families and seniors who hire senior move managers can save time, prevent conflict and reduce the burden that comes with moving— whether it’s to a new home or an assisted living facility.


  1. Senior movers prepare elderly adults for senior living. They help seniors prepare for their new environment and lifestyle.
  2. Move managers save time and money. They work with the senior and their family to reduce the need for travel, as well as reduce moving costs and downsizing expenses.
  3. Senior movers provide emotional support. They find ways to involve seniors in moving decisions and chat with them about any concerns.
  4. Meet with potential movers before hiring them. Set up interviews with those who work within your budget, and make sure they’re accredited by senior mover agencies.


Sometimes, senior move managers will pack and ship hundreds of items for a family. Other times, they’ll set up transportation and accompany loved ones across the country. No matter how involved your family’s move manager is, the process of downsizing and moving often creates a personal relationship. It’s not unusual for move managers to be in touch with clients long after they’ve settled in.

“I’ve talked to so many move managers who continue to reach out to clients to make sure if they’re OK or need anything,” says Jennifer Pickett of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM). In this article, Pickett and Mary Kay Buysse, co-executive directors of NASMM, share their insights into the credibility of senior move managers and the benefits of hiring one.

Here are seven reasons why hiring a senior move manager can be smart decision for your family.

bernardbodo / istockphoto

Many senior move managers, also known as senior relocation specialists, have found move management as a postretirement career. Some have backgrounds in nursing, social work, and psychology, while others might work in marketing, project management, or even information technology. Often, the combination of their professional background, life experience, and desire to connect with seniors prepares them for this unique role.

NASMM requires its members to have general liability insurance, and they must take classes in ethics and safety. NASMM also has a code of ethics and standard of practice for all members. For example, once hired, each senior move manager must provide a signed contract to protect the manager, the family, and their senior loved one.

monkeybusinessimages // istockphoto

Considering everything involved in an elderly parent’s move, senior move managers can save considerable time and resources. This is especially true for geographically distant families.

Instead of adult children making multiple trips to assist their senior loved one with organizing, moving, open houses, and estate sales, the mover can manage these tasks. Some families will hire a move manager months before to begin decluttering or downsizing the senior’s home room by room over time, while others will go all-in for a weekend.

Senior movers also rely on convenient technology to support families while conserving time and resources, Pickett explains.

“If you’re in a long-distance situation, a lot of the downsizing and selling can be done virtually. Move managers have that technology at their fingertips, from inventory to virtual organizing tools.”

For example, managers can set up family virtual chats as opposed to trying to schedule in-person meetings that work for everyone. They can also use tools like online marketplaces to make sales, leaving the senior’s family members free to help with other tasks.

Daniel A’Vard / istockphoto

“The art of senior move management is helping older adults part with their possessions without parting with their memories,” says Pickett.

When a person lives in one home for their entire adult life, they fill it with reminders of the people and places they love. It can be hard for younger generations to understand the emotional difficulties of downsizing a senior’s home. For instance, millennials and members of Generation X have moved more often in adulthood than baby boomers have. This disconnect can leave adult children frustrated at their aging parent’s reluctance to let things go.

Senior move managers encounter this situation often, and they can empathize with elderly adults struggling to downsize. They’re able to provide creative solutions that family members may not have considered.

Buysse shared the story of a move manager who worked with a woman in her 80s, a passionate traveler who had visited countries across the globe. Throughout their travels, the woman and her husband acquired 85 unique teapots.

“She was absolutely despondent over the fact that this move to a 500-square-foot apartment could mean, for the first time in 50 years, that those teapots would not be with her,” says Buysse.

The senior move manager suggested the woman select her three favorite teapots to display in the dinette cabinet in her new assisted living apartment. The manager then took photos of the other 82 teapots, combined all those photos into a professionally printed and framed poster, and presented it to the woman as a gift. This considerate gesture is one example of how senior move managers can find creative solutions to help seniors cope with the difficulties of downsizing.

Bequest of Mrs. Jean M. Riddell, 2010/ The Walters Art Museum

There are many ways a senior move manager can help your family save money. For instance, hiring a senior move manager who can coordinate with families virtually reduces the need for costly travel from the senior’s long-distance loved ones. It can also reduce the need for expensive moving trucks, especially when the manager effectively downsizes a senior’s belongings.

The senior relocation specialist may start the downsizing process by taking photos of the entire house and sharing them with family members to determine what should be kept or which relative wants what. Once that’s decided, the planner will work to find the best homes for the senior’s remaining items.

Senior moving services also have the resources to recoup your loved one’s expenses through discounted rates from professional partners, like cleaning services and appraisers. A senior mover will also have a streamlined process for selling or donating the aging adult’s possessions.

“There are a lot of options, and the dumpster is the last resort,” says Buysse.

Here are some examples of what a senior mover might do for the leftover items from downsizing:

  • They’ll organize donations to charities like Habitat for Humanity or Move for Hunger, while ensuring that all donations are documented for the senior’s tax-deduction purposes.
  • Senior move managers may also have resources to sell valuable treasures like antique books, historic memorabilia, or unique collections, says Pickett.
  • If your family decides to have an estate sale, the move manager might connect you with an estate sale expert. Sometimes the move manager is experienced enough in resale values to conduct the sale themselves.

With additional connections to various professionals like movers, real estate agents, cleaners, appraisers, and staging experts, most move managers cover every aspect of the moving process. Some senior living communities even partner with local senior move managers. So if you’re considering hiring one, ask prospective communities if they have any incentives to help lower moving costs. Most senior relocation specialists can help families save money through specialized senior discounts.


It’s important to involve the senior in the moving process so that they don’t see the transition as something happening to them. This could mean something like organizing clothing and books or sorting through a box of old Christmas ornaments. It really all depends on your loved one’s physical and cognitive condition. The more your aging relative is able to make their own decisions, the more they’ll be likely to accept the move, explains Pickett.

On top of the stress of relocating, a change in health or the loss of a spouse is often what prompts a move to a senior living community.

“There’s so much loss associated with aging,” Pickett says. “Unfortunately, most of the time when seniors decide to move, something has happened, and they’re not necessarily in the position where they’re in total control.”

An impartial third party can help bring order to the moving process, reducing stress for both a senior and their adult children. This makes another case for hiring a senior moving specialist.

“That way the family can focus on the physical and emotional needs of their loved one,” Pickett adds.

The transition to senior living is more common than you might think. In the last year, more than 4.8 million families were referred to senior living communities by A Place for Mom. And this need is only expected to grow in the future. In fact, by 2060, the population of seniors age 65 and older is predicted to increase from about 17% to 25% of the total U.S. population.

One of the biggest hesitations seniors have about transitioning to assisted living is a desire to age at home with home care, surrounded by familiar memories and possessions. If an older adult is struggling with the decision to move into independent or assisted living, communities may recommend reaching out to a move manager to ease the process.

“One of the best skills a senior move manager brings to the table is their ability to listen. There’s the physical side of moving, but there’s also the emotional side of leaving what they’ve known and starting a new normal,” says Pickett.

During a consultation with a senior and their family, a senior mover can listen to concerns and offer solutions based on their experience with others in similar situations. They can help reduce the fear of downsizing and make a seemingly overwhelming process less daunting. Once the decision to move to assisted living has been made, move managers help set an older adult up for a successful transition.

“It’s so important to make a senior move seamless and stress-free,” says Pickett. “If a move goes poorly, the stress that’s associated can really send an adult into a downward spiral.”

Byryo/ istock

The stress of moving, coupled with conflicting personalities, can lead to family disputes with families and their aging loved one. Often, one sibling will try to speed up the sorting and packing process.

“They may say something like, ‘Mom, you don’t really need this thing.’ But it isn’t their decision — it’s her decision,” says Pickett.

A senior move manager can de-escalate the situation and put the argument into perspective. They can also calmly provide an objective perspective and guide families through the process of deciding which things to keep, sell, and donate.

“There are a lot of memories and emotions wrapped up for the adult children as well,” Pickett notes. “Senior move managers are valuable because they help take that emotion out.”

Deposit Photos

If you’re ready to start the process of finding a senior move manager, start with NASMM’s online locator to search for senior move managers in your area. Wherever you search, it’s important to make sure that anyone you consider is an accredited senior move manager, which means they’re authorized to perform this job.

Once you narrow down your search, interview several move managers to find who will work the best with you. Ideally, you want to work with someone that both you and your senior loved one are comfortable with. Consider involving your elderly relative in the interview, and come prepared with a list of questions to gauge how well you’ll work together.

As you move further into the decision process, you should also compare each senior move manager’s rates. If they’ve spoken with you in detail about where their assistance is needed, they should be able to give you an estimated hourly or total cost. By narrowing down the options that work within your budget and interviewing different move managers, you should be able to find the right fit.

The national average cost of a senior move manager is between $40 and $80 an hour, depending on the location and type of move. Based on our research, the total cost can end up between $1,500 and $5,000, again depending on where you live and the details of the move. For example, seniors who want support with every single part of the moving process will end up paying more than seniors who only want help with downsizing or organizing.

Often, managers will also offer package options based on client needs. Remember that each situation is unique, so NASMM requires all of their partners to provide comprehensive estimates to each prospective client before a move.

If you think a senior move manager could help your family, search for accredited options near you at NASMM’s online locator, or contact one of A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors for local information about moving your loved one into senior living.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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