Why Wait? How Three Couples Funded ‘Mini-Retirements’ in Their 30s
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"We also doubled down on traditional retirement savings early on in our careers, so we don’t feel like taking short-term breaks now will hurt our long-term stability."

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“After our oldest son passed away, we were determined to not let life slip by.”

Jillian, 34, and Adam Johnsrud, 40, a sales rep and social services case manager in Kalispell, Montana

“In November 2015, we embarked on our fifth mini-retirement in 15 years. We have five kids, ranging from 2 to 10 years old, and they’re our biggest motivation. Our retirements used to be much shorter, anywhere from one to six months. But as our family grew—and especially after our oldest son passed away—we were determined to not let life slip by, so we embarked on a much longer one this time.

Taking this time off has enabled Adam and I to focus on our kids, each other, ourselves and our interests. We exercise, read, write, have weekly game nights and family adventures on the weekends.

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How do we afford it? While our combined annual income has ranged between $40,000 and $80,000 over the last 15 years, we’ve always made the most of it. For example, even after we adopted our first child and had a baby, we had a roommate for years, saving us $700 a month. We also avoid takeout meals, malls and other ‘pre-made entertainment,’ instead opting for free or cheap outdoor activities. While Adam was in the military for 10 years, our housing bill was covered, and we’ve been drawing his monthly pension for the past five years.

We’ve funneled all our excess cash into investments that have laid the groundwork for successful mini-retirements: In October 2012, we purchased our first rental property; soon after, we bought a second—generating a total of $1,200 per month ever since. We also doubled down on traditional retirement savings early on in our careers, so we don’t feel like taking short-term breaks now will hurt our long-term stability.

We’re not sure what the future holds, but we’ve maintained relationships within our professional networks and have received job offers. I’m confident that when we’re ready to return to work—likely within the year—either of us could find a great job in less than a month.”

Their advice for others: “Work on growing the gap between your income and expenses. Pay off debt, save and invest instead of increasing your lifestyle whenever you can. Sometimes people will initially grow the gap through raises, but end up with a more expensive home or car payment, so it doesn’t do them any good.”

December 11, 2017

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