Retiring Young

In 2001, when Thom Hall, a CFP near Salt Lake City, met Randy and Terri Kelly, a couple living in nearby Ogden, Utah, they had a goal: They wanted to retire when Randy reached 55.

In 2001, when Thom Hall, a CFP near Salt Lake City, met Randy and Terri Kelly, a couple living in nearby Ogden, Utah, they had a goal: They wanted to retire when Randy reached 55.

Their inspiration: Randy's mom, who had retired too late and was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. “By the time she retired, her health was so bad she couldn't do anything,” Randy says.

They were confident they were on course when they strode into Hall's office. Randy was 51 and Terri was 47. Together they made more than six figures and had saved what they thought was a decent retirement nut. They had no children; Randy worked for the state and would get a pension; Terri was a nurse and was willing to work part time. A cabin they had purchased in Yellowstone Park in 1987 (with her late parents) for $40,000 was worth $175,000.

A self-described prudent couple, they had no debt and were willing to do whatever it took to retire young, to travel and enjoy the outdoors and to indulge their passion for photographing bears and other wildlife.

Hall, who is a senior planner with Financial Strategies Institute (FSI), an RIA affiliated with Securities America Advisors, met the couple at his seminar on how to plan for retirement. Alas, “When we ran the retirement-planning analysis, we showed a projected 50 percent deficit in meeting their goal at that age,” Hall says. “This was quite a disappointment to them, and a bit of a surprise.” That retirement nut they thought they had? Hall describes it as being “modest.”

But by continuing to work part time and working with a detailed financial road map, the couple is able to continue to travel to Alaska several weeks a year. And to help offset the costs of there photography hobby, at Hall's suggestion, they have made it a business, selling enough wilderness prints at four or five art shows a year that they earn enough to cover their expenses and legitimately record their travel as a business expense.

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