Why this engineer says to retire as soon as possible

Overview of the retreat

Mark in Biddeford Pool, Maine

Photo credit: Mark L. Morelli

  • Location: Connecticut
  • Age: 63
  • Retired at: 55
  • Marital status: Divorce
  • Occupation: Electrical Engineer

After a successful career as an electrical engineer in a large multinational, primarily on elevator and aircraft control systems, Mark slowly dipped his toe into retirement. He spent his early years writing blogs for several financial publications such as motley fool and Looking for Alpha. He is currently working on a technical book and also enjoying his free time. He spends time with his family and friends, doing yard work and pool maintenance, reading, hiking, traveling, attending military air shows, and managing investments. We spoke to Mark about his retirement.

Reality Retreat

Retirement awaits: What does a day at retirement look like to you?

To mark: Typically, I get up early at 5:30 a.m., eat breakfast, read the newspaper and financial news online, and do 2-3 hours of chores. Afternoons are usually spent on beach trips and/or hikes, reading, and visiting family and friends.

Your pension plan

Retirement awaits: Did you have a solid plan for your retirement?

To mark: I spent about 4 years planning and “practicing” my retirement. I created an expense and investment plan in an Excel spreadsheet that I still use today and update weekly. I followed the financial plan for a few years before I retired and adjusted based on the lessons learned.

For the most part, there were no major surprises once I officially retired. Apart from health insurance, the budget was accurate. (Due to the fact that ObamaCare was introduced when I was in the planning stage and took effect when I first retired, it was difficult to assess medical expenses from the start.)

Additionally, I created a “social” plan with the intention of traveling and local activities in mind. With the exception of the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, I was able to do most of what I wanted to do.

The best part of retirement

Retirement awaits: What’s the best part of retirement?

To mark: Independence (I am my own boss). Not having to answer to anyone for 8-9 hours a day is a luxury and well worth retiring early on.

Retirement Challenges

Retirement awaits: What is the biggest challenge in retirement?

To mark: In the beginning, develop a routine and buy affordable health insurance because Medicare hasn’t started yet. If the weather is bad, it somewhat limits my activities.

cost of retirement

Retirement awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs, how do you manage your money now?

To mark: I created my own budget and income plan and tracked them myself using an excel spreadsheet on a weekly basis. I found that, with the exception of health and insurance costs, my expenses were a little less than originally planned. I found that I generally spent 1-2% less each year in retirement, which was a pleasant surprise.

retirement advice

Retirement awaits: What is the best advice you would give to someone about to retire?

To mark: Retire as soon as possible. Life is short. Develop a financial and social plan several years before taking the plunge. Try out the plan and make adjustments if necessary.

Things that I wish I had known

Retirement awaits: What are a few things you wish someone had told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?

To mark: Nothing.

Best Retirement Vacations

Retirement awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?

To mark: The deserts of Arizona, Nevada, California. Peaceful, uncrowded, great hiking and sightseeing.

To learn more about retirement planning, see:

About John Tuttle

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