Retired at 50

Is it possible for someone who doesn't run a hedge fund or win the lottery to retire at 50 (or so)? Yes. Five people explain how they did just that - and how they made the transition to full-time not working.

Connie Davies
Connie Davies
Age: 52
Retirement Age: 50
Residence: Gilbert, Ariz.
Career: Phone company manager
"I didn't anticipate retiring quite this early. I started as a repair technician at Michigan Bell when I was in my early 20s; after a lot of mergers, by the time I retired, I was a midlevel manager at Qwest Communications, overseeing implementation and repair for some of our biggest clients.

"Over time the corporate culture changed. So when I became pension eligible on my 50th birthday, I thought about it long and hard, counted up all my pennies, and realized, 'I don't have to do this anymore!'

"There are no two ways about it: Retiring is scarier as a single woman. Housing, utilities, property taxes - none of this costs any less on a single income.

"My son and daughter live with me. Robert, 25, is a theater student; Millicent, 23, is applying to an MBA program. They also both work. I make sure the home front is going so that when they have some downtime they can relax. I do cooking and starching of shirts. I am an odd person, in that ironing doesn't bother me!

"I miss the day-to-day camaraderie ofbeing on the job, but not having a schedule is really nice. Next year I am going to start to travel. I have more than a half-million air miles from traveling for work, so that should get me going nicely.

"When I retired, Qwest Communications was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. I had a defined benefit plan that was worth $520,000. I took that as a lump sum and rolled it into an IRA at Charles Schwab. I also had a 401(k) with about $275,000 in it, which I had started at a young age, increasing my contribution to 15 percent in the last five years of my employment.

"The safe withdrawal rate from a retirement account is 4 percent, so if you can live at 4 percent, then you are golden. My investments have grown to more than$1.1 million. I live on investments and after-tax savings. I have not yet touched my pension or 401(k).

"I used a financial adviser for about a year after retirement; now I am pretty much an individual investor, reading a lot of financial planning materials. I am basically 100 percent into mutual funds, but I am getting ready to get into stock picking. There is no one more interested in my financial security than me."

John Greene

Nancy Mueller

Connie Davies

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.