Welcome to the Late Starter to FI series!
I am a Late Starter – I discovered the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement when I was 47. This was way later, I thought than others who seem to have it all together in their 20s and 30s.
Since I started to write about my own journey, I have discovered there are many more Late Starters like me, yay! It’s such a relief knowing I’m not alone.
I want to share our stories, our unique perspectives and show that it is absolutely not too late for us.
So in this series, I particularly highlight those of us who start our FI journeys in our 40s, 50s and 60s. And explore questions such as ‘where do we start’, ‘can we still retire early(ish)’, ‘what are the specific challenges for us late starters’. We look at our past, not to castigate ourselves but so that you can learn from us.
Please join in the conversation in the comments below. I encourage you to share your story if you fit the profile of a late starter. You absolutely don’t have to be a blogger or podcaster to share your story.
If you’ve missed any of the previous stories, you can catch up here – Late Starter to FI series
And if you can’t wait to start on your own FIRE journey, check out my step by step ultimate starter guide, Late Starter to FIRE Action Plan.
Today’s Late Starter to FI is Becky from Colorado.
I first heard Becky’s story on the Choose FI podcast – episode 152 – Is it too late? and her story really resonated with me. After all, here was another late starter with the same message that it is never too late to take control of your finances.
Here is Becky in her own words …
A little about me
I live in Colorado with my husband, Stephen. We moved to Colorado from Texas and live in the mountains with a view of Pikes Peak from my house.
Stephen retired in 2018. I was a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) and my mom lived with us for about 20 years. I was her sole caregiver for the last several years of her life.
I am 65 years old and my hobbies are snow skiing, hiking, sailing, quilting and driving a race car. I have 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
I write at Started At 50 and you can connect with me on my Facebook page @startedat50.
Stephen and I lived the typical American lifestyle of spend everything you make. We knew we needed to think about saving for the future and for retirement, but we always thought, “I’ll think about that later.”
Then we were faced with an issue that suddenly caused us to be with no income and increasing debt as we lived on credit cards. Stephen had started his own business, working from home. Two of his clients decided not to pay him. In the same year. It was equivalent to a year’s salary.
We had no savings or emergency fund and it felt like we were sinking. The situation caused extreme fear for me and almost depression for Stephen.
We had been living paycheck to paycheck, but after Stephen’s income dried up, we were living on credit cards, including buying groceries.
Our situation got so bad we finally decided “something had to give!”
At this point, we were 50 years old, with no savings, no emergency fund, no income and $55k in debt. And we were about to start the college phase of our lives with three kids.
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First steps on the path to FI
The first step in our turnaround was being introduced to Dave Ramsey by a friend. We got out of debt, started living on a budget and started saving.
Stephen had found a job with a small business and eventually moved to another firm. We had stable income again and paid off Stephen’s business debts. The children got scholarships to college.
But the biggest thing Dave Ramsey did for us was changed our mindset about money. We started using money as a tool instead of just drifting through life.
About 10 years later, we were introduced to the FIRE movement by our oldest son. He told us about several FI podcasts and blogs.
We started devouring content and learned so much. The information has helped us fine tune skills we had already developed and put new habits in place, like tax optimisation and investing strategies.
How my relationship with money has changed
I would definitely do things differently. First, I would have an emergency fund. I would not buy new cars. And I would save part of my income every month.
If you start young, the amount you need to save for Financial Independence is small compared to what we had to do later.
My relationship with money has changed. I don’t need all the ‘stuff’ I did before. I am more content with my life. Relationships are more important than stuff. I now view money as a tool to build the life I desire.
How far along the path to FI are we now?
We are FI and retired. My husband retired at the end of 2018, at the age of 63. Not early, but early for us. There was a point in the dark years when I thought we would never be able to retire.
We feel very confident about our financial situation. We should have enough to fund the rest of our lives plus enough to self fund long term care because we cannot qualify for long term care insurance.
Specific challenges or advantages of starting late
The first challenge is the obvious … we don’t have that much time left to save. But I firmly believe that “It’s Not Too Late!”.
Anyone can improve their future and their financial stability. It will take hard work and more sacrifice than it would for a younger person, but it is possible.
The key is start NOW. Don’t wait any longer.
Forgive yourself for past mistakes, formulate a plan and move forward. Any money you can save now will make your future more comfortable and less stressful.
How has Covid 19 affected our finances?
Luckily, COVID did not affect us much. We are so blessed to already be retired, so we didn’t have to worry about losing a job during the pandemic. It was frustrating to not be able to get out and travel here at the beginning of our retirement, but it meant we saved money because we didn’t go anywhere!
The pandemic allowed us to make a small move in some of our investments in the spring of 2020 when the stock market was down. We moved funds from our Bond fund to our Stock Index Fund while prices were low.
The pain and stress that we went through was awful and I now have a passion for sharing what I have learned with others. My desire is to help others not walk through the same pain I did. Or at least figure it out sooner!
Being financially unstable is a hopeless feeling. I want to offer people hope.
I’m doing this with my blog Started At 50. I write about financial literacy and the basics of financial independence. I also talk about how faith plays a role in financial decisions and what the Bible says about money.
Back to Latestarterfire
Ah … drifting through life – I know it well 🙂 There is always tomorrow to sort out my finances until well, there isn’t.
Thank you, Becky for sharing your inspirational story. Falling off a financial cliff at 50 then working hard to restore financial stability to finally achieving financial independence and retiring early at 63 – what a roller coaster.
Your story demonstrates that achieving FIRE is possible, even if starting later in life. And you are right – you must start NOW.
You’ve obviously set a good example for your children, for your oldest son to be listening to FIRE podcasts 🙂
I look forward to reading more about your adventures in retirement on your blog.