Learn How This Couple Retired Early in their 30s with over $1 Million in the Bank. Watch the Video to Get Inspired
The typical American retires in their early 60s. Here’s how this couple managed to retire in their 30s.Justin McCurry, a father of three based in Raleigh, North Carolina, quit his engineering job in 2013 and retired at age 33. His wife, Kaisorn, joined him in early retirement in 2016 at age 38.
“Neither of us ever reached a six figure salary, with my salary topping out at $69,000 and [Kaisorn’s] at $74,000,” Justin writes on his blog, Root of Good, which explains how he saved more than $1 million in 10 years to retire early. “No winning lottery tickets or inheritances, either,” he says. “Just steady saving and investing in our low cost index fund portfolio year after year.”
Their journey to early retirement began in 2004, when Justin graduated from law school and landed a job at an engineering consulting firm. Kaisorn was still in law school, meaning their combined annual income was Justin’s $48,000 salary. They had a good bit in savings already: Between the two of them, they had accumulated $49,000 from investments during college and grad school.
Over the next decade, thanks to incremental raises and careful saving and investing, their portfolio grew to more than $1.3 million, enough to support their modest lifestyle in retirement. By carefully tracking their expenses and living frugally in Raleigh, “every year we saved more than half of our income,” Justin tells CNBC Make It.
At their peak earning period, they were making a combined $138,000 and saving up to 70 percent of it. They didn’t just save a ton of money — they put their money to work. “We consistently pumped our savings into 401(k)’s, IRA’s, HSA’s, 529’s, and regular brokerage accounts,” Justin writes. “These investments grew enormously over roughly 10 years and made us financially independent today.”
Originally, the McCurrys set their retirement budget at $32,000 a year, which they stuck to in 2014 and 2015. But the budget isn’t set in stone. In 2016, for example, the McCurrys revisited their portfolio and realized they could increase their retirement budget to $40,000 a year. On the flip side, they can “always trim back on spending in some areas if our investment portfolio performed really poorly or we had an unexpected expense in one category,” Justin says.CNBC Make It
Flexibility is key in early retirement, he adds: “You may have to spend less if the markets go down. Or, you may be able to spend more than what you originally budgeted for. … As long as you’re OK cutting back on some of the wants if your portfolio goes down, then you can still cover your needs without worrying about depleting your assets prematurely.”
Even after the McCurry’s started having kids in 2005, they managed to maintain a high savings rate by taking advantage of the benefits offered by their companies, having family help out with child care and using hand-me-downs. Today, their kids are six, 12 and 13, and they all attend public school. Plus, “we don’t go overboard when there’s the big study abroad, expensive field trips,” he says.
“Instead of spending $2,000 or $3,000 to send one of the kids to Spain for a week, we would spend that same amount of money, or less, and to go to Spain for the entire family.” The couple has already started planning for college costs by setting aside “several years of tuition for each one of them,” says Justin.
It’s “not a full ride,” he notes, but “I don’t think it’s necessarily a foregone conclusion that we would pay 100 percent of the price.” Justin estimates that they spend “probably one-half or one-third of what most people report spending on kids.”CNBC Make It