Money brings us the story of the Nielsens—an Air Force couple who retired in July 2007. The husband is 44 and retired from his position as fire chief at Balad Air Base in Iraq. The wife is 40 and retired from her position as a master sergeant at a base near London. They have three kids, ages 9, 11, and 13.
How did they do it? First, the Nielsens put in more than 20 years of service with the Air Force, earning them pensions totaling $58,500 a year. On top of that, the Nielsens were fantastic savers. From their first days of marriage, they started putting aside about 35% of their income. By their last few years before their retirement, they were putting aside a stunning 59% of their income—$75,000 a year. Throughout, they put their savings into mutual funds and individual stocks. Their portfolio nest egg was worth about $380k by the time they retired.
How are they doing it now? The Nielsens are living frugally for sure. They have a strict budget and plan to live strictly off their pensions—and not touch their portfolio—for at least 10 years.