Calvin Lawrence was able to retire from his job as executive director at Corinthian College in Chesapeake, Va., four years ago, even though he hadn't gotten serious about retirement planning until age 50.
At that point, he had about $200,000 set aside. With his two children out of college, tuition and other child-care bills were gone. And a promotion had boosted his pay by $20,000.
He made $110,000 a year, but "I lived like I earned $50,000," says Lawrence, now 63. "I found that I don't need to spend a whole lot of money to be happy."
The result: He built his savings to $800,000. Since retiring, the biggest surprise has been how much his expenses have dropped, even the little things: "The last time I took something to the dry cleaner was a year ago," he says.
But he still has fun. He spends time with his kids and grandkids, visits family around the country, and works out three times a week at the local Y. "I've never been happier."