Retirement Plan Exploits

Have you heard? I plan on retiring early. Somewhere in my mid-thirties I will own every hour of every day that I live. Imagine yourself in those shoes. Or maybe they would be slippers. In any case you’re free to wear them all day. It’s up to you, and they represent the ability to answer only to yourself.

Lots of ‘yous’ and ‘yours’. But it’s only natural. For so long, year after year it hasn’t ever been about others. Sure you wake up and within an hour are immersed in a sea of persons on the way to work, turning stressful, gymnastic mind-flips amongst co-workers, and finally journeying back through that sea of Autopilots. The energy, however, to power through days of this sameness doesn’t come from a misled, borderline deluded interest, it comes from something else.

I walk for enjoyment, and observe and wonder what beyond all the doors that face the sidewalk. People living, sure; empty rooms perhaps. Decades of undisturbed dust, or perhaps a shiny, new renovated loft with high, sun-soaked wooden beams. Behind others are the back doors to soul-kitchen made magic. Happy people enjoying the craft of skillful cooks, baristas, and bartenders, born into their role. Where do they come from? How are there so many? And if they aren’t asking the same questions, for certain they are or were once thought.

I have wandered off the route previously set out to trek. Let’s get back to it:  A rough outline of my retirement plan, and a scheme to legally exploit the unexpecting and innocent 401(k). In the spirit of one of my favorite bloggers, I will numerically list the steps and, as necessary, expound the details either now, later, or never.

  1. Max out all tax-advantaged retirement accounts (personal Roth IRA, company 401(k), and company HSA)
  2. Live off an estimated 20k per year (Really? In the NYC metro?)
  3. Throw everything else into a Vanguard account, invested in VTSAX
  4. Quit my job mid-30s with money enough in the Vanguard account to sustain 5 years living and
  5. Build a Roth IRA conversion ladder and live off the returns forever

This list is flexible, and will likely be lightly amended or extended before the last number is crossed off. In reality, however, the last line will never be completed, at least not in the sense that I’ll ever be the one crossing it out.

The words in step #5 represent the holy grail of personal financial sustainability. It’s the device powered by airborne energy. A device ceaseless in operation, living and breathing the stock market, and buoyed by our unstoppable global economy.

The links above deserve to be followed, read, re-read, memorized, and internalized. Of course, we’re all growing up at different speeds and the paths to achieve daily happiness are a many-node, crisscrossed web. Looking back, I am fascinated and I take it as a good sign.

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