Have Enough to Retire (Early)? 10 Steps to Make Sure

Will you have enough to money to retire (early or otherwise)? Achieving financial independence requires many key elements to be in place and special consideration if you plan to retire early. You need a plan: what will you do? What will you spend? Where will it come from?

In this episode, Eric and Jason discuss a recent blog post by Fritz @ The Retirement Manifesto where he discusses the “10 Steps to Make Sure You Have Enough Money to Retire”. We cover how we’ve been designing our “dream retirement”, how we track current expenses and project future spend, how Jason is drawing down assets and Eric’s evolving plan to use “the bucket strategy”, and much more.

Show Notes

10 Steps to Make Sure You Have Enough Money to Retire – This is The Retirement Manifesto blog post that inspired our episode. Be sure to visit Fritz’ website for this article, as well as all the associated tools we mentioned in the show. We also highly recommend his three-part series on The Bucket Strategy, which we referred to in the episode.

Social Security is an important aspect to consider in most US retirement income plans. This link will take you to calculators that you can use to estimate your retirement benefits. SSA Tools is another useful site, one in which where you can copy/paste your SSA.gov data and use “…clear interactive visuals that let the user investigate how different choices might affect their overall benefit.” It’s a really good tool for modeling different scenarios. Lastly, Open Social Security runs the math for each possible claiming age and reports which strategy is expected to provide the most total spendable dollars over your lifetime.

New Retirement.com – More and more people on Reddit seem to be discussing this comprehensive retirement planning suite. They have a very full-featured free offering as well as a modestly priced paid version with a host of really nice features, plus consulting services. There’s a very active Facebook community as well.

Financial Order of Operations (Money Guy Show) – is a really great resource that “outlines the 9 steps anyone can take to build wealth and reach financial abundance.” We recommend downloading a copy and having a look at the associated episodes on their YouTube channel too. This is an essential tool to ensure your personal financial habits are supporting your FIRE goals.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) – By our observation, there is no budgeting tool more widely discussed, nor with a user base so passionate than YNAB. If manual spreadsheets aren’t your thing, or you’ve struggled with budgeting, look no further. YNAB has a free 34-day trial and the subsequent annual fee readily pays for itself. (affiliate link – a free month for each of us if you sign up!)

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Healthcare is my Second Highest Cost in Early Retirement

Health insurance may not be top of mind in early retirement when you’re young and healthy, but it should be. In the US, healthcare costs are a significant line item in our budget. To help us decode what you need to know, we’ve invited a retirement benefits expert to answer our questions through the lens of those seeking financial independence and early retirement.

To protect against astronomical expenses resulting from unexpected medical issues it’s prudent to carry insurance and if you’re retiring before 65 (when Medicare kicks in) you’ll be responsible for covering those costs. What do you need to consider? What ARE the costs involved? What insurance shouldn’t you purchase? Are there other options for coverage? What about long term care insurance? These are just a few of the topics we cover in this hour-long episode.

Our sincere thanks to Amy Manning for sharing her time, knowledge and expertise with us!

Show Notes

In this episode we mentioned a number of useful resources primarily for US residents seeking healthcare that we’d like to share with you. Note that many apply whether you are on a FIRE path or traditional retirement age.

COBRA is an important bridge strategy for health insurance for many people in the US, just as it was for Jason. The linked page is a great starting point and points to a variety of other sources that you will find helpful. Please note that some states have additional information available, and may even have further extension coverage offered beyond the federal requirements. As one tip – the best time to research COBRA is before leaving your employer. Your HR benefits partner or healthcare plan administrator is an ideal starting point to gather more information about your company’s plan and coverage options.

Healthcare.gov is the best starting point when it comes to information about Affordable care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) plans. In many cases, you will be directed to a state-run plan with its own website, but this is not always the case. Presently, a number of states have federally-run, state-federal partnership, or federally-supported plans. Where there isn’t a state exchange, you’ll see options and apply for coverage directly from healthcare.gov.

ACA plan subsidies are a topic worth a deeper dive than our time allowed in this episode. Many on a FIRE path plan on having incomes well within the limits where cost-reducing subsidies apply. Typically, as long as your household income is below 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL), these apply. When you investigate ACA coverage options, information will be provided on your eligibility for these based on the income information you supply. Importantly, in 2021 and 2022, provisions of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) legislation made further improvements to eligibility, eliminating so-called “subsidy cliffs”.

Healthcare Sharing Ministries (HSMs) are an option of interest to many. However, neither of us are experts on the topic. We’ve looked into HSMs and decided they weren’t for us, as they’re not bound by the same requirements as true insurance plans. That said, this page seems to be a reasonable starting point for high level information on a number of options available. If you have interest in these plans, be sure to dig deeper. Many user stories are available online via Reddit and other sources. For information on the potential downsides of HSMs, we found this recent John Oliver segment very eye-opening. Caveat emptor, friends.

GoodRx and RxSaver are convenient tools to find out where you can get your prescriptions filled for the lowest cost via coupon discounts. A related tip for diagnostic testing + labwork is that for many insurance companies, it’s easy to use their website to confirm your options for in-network testing. Don’t be surprised by higher bills that come from using labs that are out-of-network! A few minutes of work is well worth it to ensure you’re getting the lowest cost options available to you.

Medicare.gov should be your starting point for researching healthcare coverage options for US retirees once they reach 65 years of age. It’s never too early to understand what this will look like for you even though it may seem far in the future. If you’re new to the topic, easy to digest summary information is available on this page. As you develop your retirement budget, this site will be a useful source of information to estimate those future costs.

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.