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How This Couple Plans To Retire By 35 On $25,000 A Year

Minneapolis couple aims for early retirement with frugal lifestyle and strategic savings
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Aiming to secure a robust financial future, the combination of earning well, spending wisely and retiring early can be a powerful financial strategy. 

Minneapolis-based Tanner Firl and his wife Isabel follow this principle when they set up their financial goals. 

Protesters hold a banner reading ‘Pensions, not one day more’ as they march during a demonstration as part of a nationwide day of strikes and rallies for the second time in a month, to protest a planned reform to boost the age of retirement from 62 to 64, in Strasbourg, eastern France on January 31, 2023. – The French President faced a new wave of anger over his plan to reform pensions, with nationwide strikes and protests causing widespread disruption in transport, schools and other public services. (FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images) 

Speaking with CNBC, the duo said they are allergic to spending money which plays into the couple’s financial strategy. “It never made sense to me,” Firl told CNBC. “Most people have a problem not spending money. We have almost the opposite problem.”

Firl is a firm believer in financial independence as well as retiring early. He has been increasing savings by reducing as many extraneous expenses as possible. 

With an initial savings of approximately $380,000, Firl aims to achieve a target of at least $625,000 to support an early retirement by age 35. This projected portfolio size would generate an annual income of $25,000 for his family.

Firl earns nearly $135,000 a year as a software engineer, and about half of his monthly income goes toward food and living expenses. He invests the rest.

Talking about his childhood and how he used to spend money, Firl said, “Whenever we wanted something as a kid growing up, we would have to spend our own money to buy it or wait until a birthday or Christmas.”

“It all seemed to make a lot of sense to me. Basically, just spending as little as you can, so you can live your life as fully as you want,” he added.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2015, Firl secured a position at the National Security Agency, earning an annual salary of approximately $66,000.

In two and a half years, Firl accumulated sufficient savings to make a down payment on a house in Minneapolis. They acquired their second home in 2018 for $185,000, subsequently opting to sell their first property due to the challenges of managing it as a rental. 

Despite Firl’s current salary of $135,000, the couple has consciously avoided succumbing to “lifestyle creep” and remains steadfast in their commitment to frugality.

“We also have garnered a reputation with our friends and family as being very frugal and thrifty,” Firl said. “We do end up getting a lot of free things just because a family member will see something free on the side of the road, and they’ll think that we might like it.”

Firl said that aiming to live off $25,000 a year may seem like you need more. But he’s confident they can make it work.

“Retiring is not about sitting on your couch watching Netflix all day or going to the beach and getting a nice suntan,” he said. “It’s about getting to do whatever you want in life.”

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Hammond

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