FIRE enthusiast Jackie Cummings Koski retired at age 49 with a net worth of $1.3 million.
The single mom started with $20,000 in her retirement account, People reported. When Koski discovered the FIRE movement, she boosted her portfolio to over $1 million. At age 46, she became financially independent. Then, she reached her FIRE goals at age 49 and retired early.
FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. The financial and lifestyle movement is designed to promote aggressive savings and investing goals. After adopting consistent money savings and growth habits, participants have the freedom to choose how they live their lives. Many individuals in the movement achieve FIRE in their 30s, 40s, and 50s with enough money to live comfortably during their lifetime.
Koski says that simple savings habits can make a big difference over the long term. She tells her students that they can achieve their millionaire goals by saving $50 a week for 40 years. Koski reached her financial goals early by studying money, committing to her goals, and investing.
“You’re not going to be saving or investing unless in your mind you believe it will make a difference,” Koski told Market Watch. “It may take a while to really get your head around things like me, but it happens, and when it does, it is very, very powerful.”
How Koski Retired At 49 While in the FIRE Movement
After going through a divorce in 2004, Koski became committed to learning about money.
She realized that all the major financial decisions were managed by her husband, leaving her with many financial knowledge gaps that she wanted to overcome. Koski’s wake-up call occurred when she realized that her retirement account was $20,000 and her ex-husband’s account was worth $120,000.
“I just didn’t know and I never asked,” Koski explains to People. “Shame on me.”
This motivated Koski to join a local investment club to learn more about investing. She also contributed the maximum amount to her 401K and Roth IRA. Then she opened a Health Savings Account and focused on her budget. Koski was on a mission to retire by 55. But after pursuing FIRE In her 40s, she was able to accelerate her progress. Koski left her full-time job and started teaching others how to achieve financial freedom.
The $1 Million Game Plan
One of the most important steps that Koski took to achieve financial independence was to calculate her net worth. This is the sum of your assets minus your liabilities.
“Once you know where you’re starting, you can move the needle in the right direction,” Koski told Business Insider.
When Koski calculated her net worth in 2013, she realized she had accumulated a $500,000 net worth. One year later, her net worth jumped to $600,000 as she started to follow the principles of the FIRE movement.
After determining her net worth number, Koski calculated her expenses. She determined that she would need $1 million net worth to enjoy a $40,000 annual lifestyle in retirement. Using the 4% rule, Koski determined how much she would need to save to achieve her goals.
Koski continued reading books and leveraging tips used by other members. Although many individuals solely focus on making more money, Koski kept her eyes on her expenses. She lived in a lower cost of living area in southwestern Ohio to keep her monthly mortgage around $800. This helped her achieve her FIRE goals in less than 10 years without ever earning more than $95,000 a year.
When Koski delivers financial literacy presentation, she often shares her background as motivation. She grew up in poverty with a single father. He was raising six children with only a sixth-grade education. Although she didn’t learn about money growing up, it didn’t stop her from expanding her knowledge later in life. She changed her surroundings and immersed herself in the FIRE movement to achieve her goals. Now, she’s the author of a financial empowerment book, “Money Letters: 2 My Daughter” and Founder of Money Letters, LLC.
“I figured if I could do this after starting with nothing, it was my duty to share what I’ve learned with others,” Koski tells Business Insider. “It is now my life’s work, and I finally get to follow my dream of creating a financially literate society. And that is something I never want to retire from.”