Jane has been the breadwinner for her family for the last 30 years.
While her husband also works full-time, he only brings in a third of the family income; Jane brings in the rest.
Jane is 59 years old and has a high stress job. This stress has lead her to make unwise physical choices. She rarely exercises and is overweight. She enjoys convenience foods and eating out because she has no time to cook.
A few months ago Jane had a stroke, and shortly thereafter had to have carotid artery surgery to clean out a blockage. Since the surgery, Jane is tired. The physical recovery took longer than she expected, and she had to return to her demanding job sooner than she would have liked.
Though she would like to retire and has a decent retirement account, Jane wants to pay off the house and achieve some other financial goals before she retires.
Her husband, though, worries that retiring in 5 years will be too late for Jane.
If you find yourself in a similar position and want to slow down on your career or even retire after a serious health scare, there are steps you can take to make that happen faster than you may think possible.
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1. Sell the house.
If you are empty nesters still paying down the mortgage, consider moving to a smaller house. With the sale of your own home (if you have enough invested) you may be able to buy a smaller home outright. Jane's husband is trying to convince her to do this because their current house is 2,400 square feet, which is much larger than they need.
2. Cut off the kids.
Are you still bankrolling your adult children? If so, now may be the time to stop. While you may want to continue to help your adult kids, you need to think of yourself first. If you've had a serious health scare, now is the time to take care of yourself. The more you can reduce your expenses, including what you dole out to adult kids every month, the sooner you may be able to retire.
3. Look into a part-time job.
If you just can't see yourself retired yet, consider working part-time. You may be able to do this with your current employer, or you may be able to retire from your current job and get a part-time job. This will allow you time to slow down and take care of your health while also allowing you to stay active in your work field and bring in some extra money.
4. Meet with a financial planner.
If you haven't done so already, consider meeting with a financial planner. The planner can help you project how long your current retirement nest egg will last as well as help you find other ways to stretch your dollars and reach your goals sooner.
5. Get rid of the things in your life that don't matter.
Jane and her husband were used to living the good life–eating out frequently, buying new tech gadgets, and buying a new car every few years. While Jane still feels the need to keep life as it was before her health scare, her husband now realizes that these things matter very little. What matters is having Jane with him for many more years to come. He has convinced Jane that they should hang on to their current automobiles rather than upgrading, and they've stopped going out to eat as often.
When you experience a health scare, you may suddenly realize what matters in your life. If you're close to retirement age, you may be able to use some of these strategies to retire earlier and take better care of yourself.
What other suggestions would you have for people looking to retire earlier?