Becky Heptig from StartedAt50 is among the growing number of people discovering FIRE After Fifty. Her message to people Later2FIRE is it’s never too late.
Soon after Becky walked on stage to receive her college diploma, she walked down the aisle to marry her college fiancé Stephen. Married life got off to a promising start. New jobs were followed by a new car and a new house. Even a sail boat and membership in a yacht club. Life was good!
After the arrival of their first child Becky left her job, which was 50% of their family income, to be a stay-at-home mom. Several years later Stephen’s company transferred them from Houston to Boston. Unfortunately their personal finances took a hit due to Boston’s higher cost of living and losses from renting out their Houston house. But the biggest blow was dealt when Stephen got laid off after they returned to Texas.
“We were digging a bigger hole with our debt every day just to live. I thought we would pay on this debt the rest of our lives and never get out from under it.”
Over the next few years Stephen took several jobs but none proved to be a long-term solution. So after a period soul searching, they decided that self-employment aligned better with their values and family needs. Self-employment enabled them to keep their heads above water until their top two revenue clients both failed to pay them. That not only devastated the business but also put tremendous strain on their marriage and family.
Starting Over Again
Fortunately Becky’s and Stephen’s lives stabilized after he got a job that a friend recommended him for. He stayed in that job for two years until a better paying opportunity presented itself. Slowly but surely things got better. They were grateful for an opportunity to reboot their lives. One thing they learned from their hard times was they had to get their financial house in order.
That began when a friend suggested she check out Dave Ramsey who hosts a popular radio about how to pay off debt and build wealth. Becky could relate because they had not saved for retirement or their children’s education. She and Stephen decided to try Dave Ramsey’s approach to budgeting. It worked. Not only did they cut spending but they started saving. Small steps but big steps in the right direction!
Discovering FIRE After Fifty
Now that they had a handle on spending and saving, it was time to confront a negative view they held. They believed they were inherently bad at investing and could never understand the stock market. Their son, who was aware of their self-defeating attitude, decided to help. He suggested they listen to the ChooseFI podcast which turned out to be another eye-opening experience. ChooseFI taught them about low-fee index funds, tax optimization and travel hacking. More importantly, it boosted their confidence. It also inspired them to develop deeper ties to the FIRE community. Becky started following Paula Plant from Afford Anything and read J L Collins The Simple Path to Wealth. She even attends local meet-ups and CampFI!
Their results have been nothing short of amazing! They helped their three children graduate from college with no debt. And they project that they’ll be able to retire at least four years earlier than expected.
Her Advice to Others
“Don’t wait any longer. You can make your future more comfortable. If you’ve messed up in the past, forgive yourself, make a plan and move forward. Do it today!”
It’s never too late! FIRE after fifty is possible. The biggest and hardest step to take is the first one. Don’t let negativity hold you back. The FIRE community is full of people to support you. Find a blog or podcast that resonates with you. Identify one small change you want to make. Then go for it! Small changes add up. Even if you never achieve financial independence or retire early, the future can be better and more secure by starting the journey.
Check out the first article from the FIRE Starters series which features Deb Jacobs.