Success Stories: Retired At Age 43 With Nearly $2,000,000

SmartMoney brings us the story of the Arnolds. (By the way, the print version has a little more detail than the online version.) Based on the article’s projection at the time it was published, Jay Arnold would have just retired this past May, at age 43—joining his wife Connie, who already retired and is age 42. They have two young kids and savings “approaching” $2,000,000.

How’d they do it?
  • During the time that they worked, they both had good incomes, described in the article simply as “management-level salaries.” Jay was a project manager for an automaker; Connie was a loss-prevention specialist at State Farm.
  • They supplemented their regular income with “part-time, self-employed work.” Jay managed e-commerce sites for several merchants; Connie started an event-planning business.
  • They saved a ton. They started off saving 30% of their take-home pay maybe two decades ago.
  • They tackled debt aggressively, paying off their house in 1998—presumably meaning when Jay was 33 and probably meaning they did it in 10 years or less. And without a debt load, they then started saving 50% of their take-home pay!
  • The article does not describe much about their investment strategies, but it is clear that they have much of their money in their 401(k) plans; and they also seem to have more than one rental property.
  • They were clearly long-term planners. As an example, they had already lined up health insurance for their retirement well before the day came.
In retirement, the Arnolds continue to save, channeling $229 a month into a separate account for college savings. And they will work part-time: Jay will spend a few days a week on his Web businesses and managing the rental properties; and Connie will spend about two months a year on her event-planning business. But it looks like they’ll be having lunch together at home pretty regularly.



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