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Couple Retires By Mid-30s

Couple Retires By Mid-30s

What’s your definition of “early” retirement? Sixty? Fifty-two?

A California couple recently retired in their mid-30s with $1 million in the bank, according to a story in Forbes magazine. 

That remarkable accomplishment would be difficult for most of us to replicate. I know I couldn’t do it — not with four kids!

The couple, Travis and Amanda, had no kids, were well-paid tech professionals, and already had $350,000 saved when they undertook this project. But their story reinforces several important lessons about building wealth for retirement.

Set a goal. When Travis lost his information systems job in 2012, he quickly realized he really didn’t like working. He preferred the freedom of not working. So, he and Amanda set a goal of amassing enough money to retire as soon as possible. They pegged that number at $1 million. The couple planned to live on 3 percent to 4 percent of their portfolio’s value every year and expected a 7 percent annual growth rate.

Get organized. You can’t map a journey unless you know the starting point. Travis and Amanda put all their financial information into the free budgeting site and did a deep dive analysis of their assets and spending. They also combined several 401(k)s from former employers.

Your job is your biggest asset. Travis went back to work purely to make the couple’s retirement dream come true. He switched jobs three times in three years to obtain salary increases. Travis told Forbes he kept his eyes on the prize, which made a great employee. Amanda, a chemical engineer, stayed in her job and racked up seniority increases. At their earnings peak, the couple was making a combined $200,000.

Prioritize saving. The couple saved as much as 65 percent of their income during the three years it took to amass $1 million. They lived in a rent-controlled $2,200-a-month Oakland, Calif., house (crazy cheap for the Bay Area) and aggressively cut costs by doing things like riding bikes instead of driving, and hanging the laundry outside to save on running the dryer. The two credit their frugal parents for teaching them how to live modestly.

Watch out for fees, penalties and taxes. High fees can be a great return-killer. You should review and question every fee you pay, even on funds inside your 401(k). Amanda and Travis put much of their retirement money in low-cost ETFs and index funds. These paid off nicely, as the couple rode a more than 60 percent increase in the S&P 500 from 2012 until 2015.

The couple planned ahead and was able to avoid the 10 percent IRA early withdrawal penalty by using a Roth IRA conversion ladder. In this forward-looking strategy, they transferred a certain amount of money each year from their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Once five years had passed from the initial IRA to Roth conversion, they were able to tap the amount converted to their Roth in an annual laddered sequence and avoid the early withdraw penalty.

Simplify before retirement. As they approached their goal, Amanda and Travis sold much of the stuff in their two-story house.

Watch the outflow in retirement. While most conversations about retirement planning center in saving, you need to think carefully about your post-work spending if you want your nest egg to see you through 20 or more years.

Travis and Amanda are very disciplined about this. They stuck to their plan to spend no more than 4 percent of their portfolio’s current value per year. As a result, they sometimes had to cut back their monthly spending when the market dipped. They did so even while on their long-planned retirement adventure, a driving trip from San Francisco to Costa Rica. They made that journey in their frugal fashion, driving a used Toyota 4Runner that often doubled as their nighttime accommodations. When the couple arrived in Costa Rica, they leased a house for $1,000 a month — about $30 a night. They cooked most of their own meals and weren’t interested in expensive resorts or tourist activities.

Relocate and save. When Amanda and Travis returned to the U.S., they left the super-pricey Bay Area and bought a $270,000 house in Asheville, N.C. They chose the artsy mountain town because the cost of living is relatively low. They also believe it will be easy to rent the house during their coming summer travels.

Travis and Amanda insist they are done working. But they plan to have a family in the future. Their frugality is impressive, but the cost of kids is a game changer for any couple’s finances. So, we’ll see.

Again, this is an extreme example of achieving an early retirement. But if these two 30-somethings can accumulate about $650,000 in three years, surely you can achieve your savings goals in 20 or 30 years by adopting some of these same mindsets and tactics.

Hey, wait. We just learned a financial lesson from two millennials! Will wonders never cease?

Read the original AJC article here.


CIA Presents at the Federal Reserve Bank and Southeastern Accounting Show

The Capital Investment Advisors team was recently engaged in a series of events on topics around retirement, paying off debt, and investing at various events around Atlanta.

On August 26 our Chief Investment Strategist Wes Moss, presented to employees at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and shared tips on how to retire sooner and how to retire happy.

On August 27-28, our team attended the Southeastern Accounting Show, a continuing education forum and conference highlighting the hottest topics in the accounting profession. This conference is hosted by the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (GSCPA) who also invited Wes Moss to give the keynote address.



Wes Moss Becomes Financial Planning Expert with

Join our team in congratulating our Chief Investment Strategist, Wes Moss, who is now a Financial Planning Expert with

As the expert, Wes will be contributing articles frequently and giving advice in categories that include: Budgeting, Saving Money, Personal Finance, Planning for Life Stages, Credit & Debt Management, Retire Happy, and Self-Employment.

Read some of the latest articles here:

5 Ways to Use Your Inheritance Wisely

4 Steps to Pay Off Your Mortgage

5 Easy Steps to Start Saving Today

4 Big Money Saving Tips for Families


Rebuilding on the Horizon

They’re back. The cranes have once again arisen on the Atlanta skyline. And it doesn’t fall short of indicating that there has been some sort of economic recovery that is attracting developers to finish old projects or start on new projects in the Atlanta area.

The rise of the crane makes us wonder if we’re on the brink of another real estate or economic boom.  If we were judging just based on the growth rate of the numbers of cranes in the sky, then maybe the argument would be valid. And we are in a position where we are paying close attention and cautious when it comes to the amount of new residential projects taking place, not just commercial. The good news is that existing and pending home sales are trending higher for the year and home prices continue to be in an uptrend. Mortgage rates are also falling this year, which provides opportunities for new home buyers at lower costs. 

For our younger generation, the idea of buying a new home in years past made many feel weary. After all, this is the same generation that has been burned by two stock market crashes and a less-than-welcoming employment market. Nevertheless, they’ve shown resiliency and are now talking about and acting on purchasing homes. These individuals have brought the words “home purchase” back into their vocabulary.

From the aspect of investing in real estate within the equity markets, it has paid off handsomely. VNQ, the Vanguard REIT index, is up nearly 20% for the year. The Dow and S&P 500 are up 0.52% and 5.77%, respectively. 

As we head towards the end of the year, real estate seems to be poised for a longer term uptrend despite the crane rising again in Atlanta. The future of real estate may be good with a young generation ready to buy. And from an investment standpoint, taking profits from a space that has dominated so far this year may not be a bad idea.


Facing a Bull Market

Newness is most often an uncomfortable change to embrace. It evokes a certain level of nervousness which is often demonstrated in skeptical behavior.  


Investors are feeling this uncomfortableness in the new face of a bull market. And the reaction is one of definite nervousness as they wait for the other shoe to drop. Much of this nervousness is a by-product of fear of the unknown. This can be somewhat remedied by looking at what we do know.  A key factor is understanding that the market tendency, in historically similar times to this current market, has not experienced drastic turns in either direction but gradual levels of rise and fall. An overview of these past markets can also teach us that the wise investor stays true to the long-term goal, despite the initial gut reaction to pull out.


The important action to take is to be strategic in managing portfolios through the rise and seeking the advice of those who have experienced these trends. It is easy to lose focus of facts when we are being constantly bombarded with non-factual sensational claims coming from varying sources and directions.  But by keeping ourselves calm and reacting with confidence in the market we can look the bull in the face long enough to see that it is no longer new, but becoming a growing familiarity.


CIA Announces the Retirement Calculator

In recent weeks, we rolled out a retirement calculator to help people like you — individuals seeking smart investment options and planning ahead for retirement. Using the Capital Investment Advisors (CIA) Retirement Income Tool is the first step to help you plan for retirement. 

While most financial planning tools focus on hypothetical rates of return to dictate success in retirement, we focus on your true income needs in retirement as the basis for your investment strategy.

The tool works backwards to understand the differences between retirement income and retirement expenses, then outlines what an investor needs to save annually (if anything) to achieve their goal.

Once you know the income level necessary to live life the way you want, the goal is to build a portfolio comprised of a mix of assets that actually YIELD the investor a consistent flow of income on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis to fill your Retirement Income Gap.

Click here to access the free Retirement Calculator and then contact someone on our team to assess your results.


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