the process

All the Charts // Our Progress Toward Early Retirement

hiya, friends. we’re here with a friday post to share the clearest glimpse yet into where we are on our journey toward early retirement in money terms, along with a detailed breakdown of how we plan to fund both our early retirement and our full retirement. we’re talking percentages instead of absolute numbers (read why here, if you’re curious), but are going into a lot more detail than we ever have before. that’s right: it’s all the charts.

first up, our progress. we measure progress in four major categories:

  1. primary mortgage payoff
  2. taxable accounts
  3. rental property mortgage payoff
  4. 401(k) and ira balance

here’s how we’re doing on each major category:

primary mortgage payoff

mortgage_balance_oct15we recently hit the crossover point on our home where we have now paid off more than we owe. and given that we bought in 2011 near the bottom of the market, and put down a hefty 20 percent down payment, what we owe now represents only about a third to a quarter of what the house is worth. that helps us sleep at night, because we know we could downsize and potentially free up a chunk of cash. that’s the backup plan, not plan a, but it’s good to have a backup option!

looking forward, we’re planning to pay off the mortgage by the time we retire at the end of 2017, and here’s the path we’re on:


paying off the mortgage by the time we pull the ripcord should be completely possible, since we just need to continue the payoff rate we’ve established in the last year. that orange payoff line is nice and smooth with no steep jumps. that equals realistic.

taxable accounts


we’ve focused like laser beams this year on boosting up our taxable accounts, and it shows. we’re now about 3/5 of the way there on what we need to sustain part 1 of our two-part retirement. these accounts are primarily vanguard index funds, but we also include our cash accounts with ally and usaa in this total. (those are our emergency fund and the pot of money that we use to dollar cost average over to vanguard.)


the projections for what we need to save and invest on the taxable front are nice and achievable, too — love those smooth lines with no steep increases! you can tell that we sold our city condo at the start of 2014, boosting up our taxable accounts for the first time, and since then we’ve been on a fast and steady march up the hill.

update: based on questions we’ve received, we added one more chart, showing our allocation of our taxable assets. enjoy!

taxable asset allocation oct 2015

rental mortgage


we bought our rental property in april 2014, with 20 percent down and a 15-year mortgage. the amount we’ve paid off versus what’s still owed reflects that we’ve just been making the regularly scheduled payments. paying more would slow down our investments in our taxable accounts and our primary house mortgage payoff, as well as having tax implications now and in the future, so we’re just staying the course with this one, expecting to pay it off in 2029.

tax deferred accounts


we thank our lucky stars on a regular basis that we had the good sense (we being mostly the mr. in this case) to start investing in our 401(k)s early on. the mr. maxed his out by his mid-20s, which i still think is damn impressive. he’s also gotten a more generous match for years, so his balance is about 60 percent higher than mine. that thick line in the chart represents the amount we wanted to have in our accounts at the time of our retirement, so that with even conservative rates of growth for 20ish years, we’d see double-doubling that would provide us enough to live on forever using the 4 percent rule (or even the 3 percent rule) by the time we reach age 59 1/2 and can access them without penalty. we hit that point earlier this year, and thought for a hot second about cutting way back on those contributions to speed up our taxable investment progress. while we did reduce our contributions ever-so-slightly, we decided to stay pretty close to maxing out to keep getting the full employer match we’re each entitled to, and because the tax savings ain’t nothing — we’re definitely in a way higher bracket now than we plan to be in retirement, so it’s a no-brainer. (note that the line flattens not because we reduced our contributions, but because the market cooled off. we got some pretty mega returns between 2011 and 2014! we’re projecting modest returns between now and our retirement date, since we like to avoid relying on big returns.)

also, charts can “prove” anything

just for fun, while we were making all those other charts, we made a chart that proves that you can manipulate numbers to show anything you want. the scale represents only about eight percent of our total net worth, but zoomed in that close, it sure makes 2015 look like a wild ride!

net worth fluctuations 2015_skewed scale

either way, we’re happy to be at a new peak. if you connect the dots between april and october, you can see that, in the end, we haven’t actually lost much progress at this point… we just rode a bit of a roller coaster in between. though of course we have no idea what the markets will do in the coming months and years…

the retirement funding plan

we’ve talked about an oversimplified version of our two-part retirement strategy: basically, living mostly off of taxable accounts for the first ~20 years, and living mostly off tax-deferred accounts for the rest of our lives after that. a few more facts about our retirement funding plan:

  • we are also planning to live on rental income once that mortgage is paid off, but that won’t kick in for a while
  • we aren’t planning to rely on any backdoor roth conversions, though we’re happy to have that as another backup option since our 401(k)s are in good shape (and we’ll roll them over to vanguard iras once we quit, to get them out of the high-fee hands of our companies’ fund managers!)
  • we aren’t expecting to receive any social security benefits when we hit our 60s (though we wouldn’t turn ’em down!)
  • we’re expecting to receive subsidized healthcare through obamacare (more on this soon) until we qualify for medicare (we are assuming some planning based on current eligibility criteria, but know it could all change, because congress)
  • we are not planning to pay rent, since our house will be paid off (if we ever move, we’ll make sure we can pay cash — we don’t ever want another mortgage!)

as you’ve gathered, we have several levels of contingencies in place:

  • we have a good sized house right now and could downsize to free up capital
  • we could sell the rental house to free up capital (where it is located is currently booming, so we already have significant theoretical equity, though we don’t take those things too seriously)
  • we could trade places with the rental — live in it and rent out the primary residence — which would fetch a higher rent
  • we could rent out both our home and the rental and go full-time rv for a while to provide extra income
  • we could do the backdoor roth conversion with some of our 401(k) funds

none of these backup plans require us to go back to work, which we think is ideal, given that it would be harder to find work after having a gap in our employment history, especially once we’re multiple years into retirement. of course, we’re willing to work if we have to, but don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we need more money and can’t get a job. hence the plan b, plan c, plan d, plan e and plan f! (and i’m sure i’ll come up with a plan g soon enough… this is just how my brain works.)

so with all of those assumptions and contingencies out of the way, here’s our basic retirement funding plan, covering all of the major life transitions and changes in income source and healthcare coverage over time.

retirement funding plan by year


looking at that chart, i think we might have to call ourselves “ms obamacare” and “mr medicare” for a while. (halloween costume idea?) or maybe not. we can probably think of other things we’d be happier to be the poster children for. but i digress.

we really appreciated all the feedback a few weeks ago on our post revisiting the question of whether we should share our numbers, and were inspired by you guys to find a way to share it all in terms of concepts and percentages. so here you have it: more charts than you ever wanted, and a pretty full picture of where we are.

anything you see that we could be doing better? anything we’re not considering? anything that our charts or story are inspiring you to do? spill it all, friends! because it’s friday, and you got lots to do, but you also love commenting on blogs. (yes, i just misquoted “friday.” bet you didn’t see that one coming.) ;-) have a great weekend!

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55 replies »

  1. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this update! Honestly, as much as I heart graphs and percentages, I think my favourite part is how you’ve broken out the plan based on the years and accounts you’ll be relying on. At the stage I’m at, I’m still focused on maxing out my tax-advantaged accounts, but it’s great to see that at some point, that’s a possibility and taxable accounts come into play :)

    Also, kudos on the mortgage payoff tipping point! I can only imagine how awesome that must feel, especially with the actual value of the house!

    • Thanks, Des! We’re super glad that we (okay, less me and more the husband) maxed those tax-advantaged accounts early, and will probably feel happy about that for decades to come. So I think you’re on the right path! Keep focusing on those, but don’t ignore the taxable ones completely. We have to save a lot more as a percentage of what we’ll eventually spend in the taxables than we do in our 401ks, since compounding will do a lot of the growth work for us on the latter, but we don’t have enough time for the former to grow much before we’ll have to withdraw it.

      Have a great weekend!

  2. What are your thoughts on the 72T rule and using it as a backup plan? Perhaps another option for a contingency plan.

    Best Wishes

    • Should have been clearer! We lump 72T and backdoor Roth together as ways to get money out of our 401(k)s early. Either way, we hope not to have to do it, since the amounts you can take out are pretty low in any case. As we’ll share when we finally finish our Obamacare post, we’re hoping to keep our income pretty darn low, so the contingencies really should stay contingencies. :-)

  3. Wow, you guys are definitely looking good! The visuals were so nice to see BTW.

    I don’t think numbers are really necessary to show how much progress you’ve made. I wouldn’t feel obligated to share those unless you felt completely comfortable.

    Keep on trucking ;) Happy Friday!

  4. Enjoyed reading this. You guys have clearly thought this out and once your mortgage is paid off and you pull the plug on this job thing, I have no doubt that you’ll be more than prepared to take full advantage of your new life!

    • Thanks, DTG! The big X factor is still making our taxable accounts stretch long enough, but that’s where frugality comes in! Once we hit 2029 and have rental income, and then 401(k) not long after, we know we’ll be set, but it’s those years between now and then that will probably have a big learning curve. Hope you guys are doing well!

    • Great question! The answer is highly market-dependent, of course. We chose our target amount based on the assumption that we’d basically spend it all by 59 1/2 if the markets perform below average, but if we get average or better returns, then we’ll still have a decent chunk remaining. And that assumes no income at all, which we think is unlikely — we’ll almost certainly do little fun jobs here and there!

  5. I think your plan looks great.

    One note on the primary mortgage. I initially felt that paying ours off in 7 years was a mistake and have read some compelling arguments for carrying one in ER given current low interest rates. However, as I’ve really dug into the tax planning side of things, not needing to have income in the form of earned income or capital gains of selling off investments to pay for housing (eliminating the largest expense for most households) allows you a lot of flexibility to either spend more or have room to do trad to Roth IRA conversions while paying minimal taxes and saving a bundle on healthcare. For that reason, I think that part of the plan is really smart ( just my $.02)

    • Great minds think alike. :-) This big Obamacare post I keep referring to is where we’ll talk about this. Basically, when we ran all the numbers, we saw that there is a HUGE subsidy difference based on relatively small differences in income. So we want to keep our earned and capital gains income (MAGI) as low as possible in early retirement, which won’t allow room for paying a mortgage. That is also magnified by living in a high COL area, so our mortgage payment is currently more than we plan to live on in an average month in retirement! Plus, having the assets on hand to keep paying the mortgage would mean we have to save a lot more, so it wouldn’t actually speed up our retirement by any meaningful amount of time. There’s also the priceless psychic benefit we’ll get from knowing that we own our home free and clear and are truly free at the time of our retirement. :-)

  6. Niiiiiiiiice. Yup, this is what I had in mind for you guys to publish, and you totally nailed it. Being 60% of the way there is pretty darn good, and you guys have significant fall back potential with your real estate properties and rental income. I think you guys are planning this very, very well.

    From a financial standpoint, our plan is similar to yours, though we will be utilizing the Roth conversion strategy most likely. We anticipate our post-tax brokerage account to last us a good 10 years or so at a minimum, at which point we will transition over to our Roth, which we had been contributing to slowly from our traditional 401k accounts over that decade.

    But yeah, your net work fluctuation chart is interesting to look at…ours looks similar as well. In the end, we’re still eternally grateful that the “market correction”, or whatever it was, happened this year instead of next year when we quit. It could happen AGAIN next year, but hey, we can’t control that.

    Nice update, appreciate the charts!

    • Thanks, Steve! It was fun to make all the charts, since we certainly had all the data ready to go. (What, you mean it’s not normal to want to update the spreadsheets multiple times a day???!!!) ;-)

      I think the Roth conversion strategy makes a ton of sense for lots of folks, so right on. I know I keep referencing this mythical Obamacare post I’m working on, but I’ll explain a lot more in that — we’re hoping to reverse engineer our budget to maximize subsidies, which means keeping income low. Once we can get Medicare, though, we plan to step up our standard of living in a big way. But that’s just us — not everyone wants to live like a dirtbag in their 40s and 50s. :-)

      Have a great weekend!

  7. I’ve got chart jealousy! I feel the need to go open a spreadsheet! Love the way you broke it out into years, I only have a general plan in my head. I know we will have to tap 401ks early because we’ve already over saved in them. Yeah for younger me!

    • Maybe it’s time for you to make some charts of your own! :-) Please share them when you do.

      Mapping out the years and the income sources was SUPER helpful to us in modeling our projections, which are the part we don’t share because they’re super specific to our numbers, and account for a range of potential market returns. I highly recommend everyone do that, since it helps then figure out how much income you need your investments to generate each year, which provides a good stress test for your target number.

      And wohoo for younger you! I don’t hear of many folks who have also oversaved in their 401(k)s… never thought I’d get to say that about us! :-)

  8. I love this update too. Also, I’ve been seeing that you have 2.2 years left for this month, and I’m excited for it to go down to 2.1–probably not as excited as you two though, I’m sure.

    I was just thinking about how much it’d cost to pay off my mortgage in a few years and I started to think about how much my home owners insurance is. How do you guys deal with home insurance and car insurance? Do you ever try to “skimp” on these in order to save money/pay more money to your mortgage, 401K’s, etc.? My family has always been big on having enough insurance, so though I’m tempted to cut back, it’s not likely I will.

    Also, I was considering not asking this question for fear of looking “stupid,” but I’m going to take that risk. What is a taxable account? I understand that I put money into my 401K before I pay taxes on it and that I will pay taxes when I take it out, I think. I also know that the money I put into my checking or savings has already been taxed (income tax.) I don’t know if that’s what you mean by taxable account or not.


    • Haha — thanks for sharing our excitement about the ticker! I think the number in the near term that we’re most looking forward to is when it goes from 2.0 to 1.9, because having less than two years will make it all seem a lot more real. :-)

      To answer a few of your questions: We are huge believers in insurance, and in reality are probably overinsured. We have raised our deductibles in recent years to lower our premiums, but we definitely keep solid coverage on our cars, home and a few random things like my engagement ring, as well as our rental property and our lives. :-) We’re also planning to add an umbrella policy soon, since we hear that frivolous lawsuits against high net worth people continue to rise. And we’ll look at long-term care insurance once we no longer receive that through work. My two cents: don’t skimp on your insurance!

      And yes, taxable accounts mean money we’ve already paid income tax on (unlike 401ks which are pretax), and include our savings accounts (an accessible one at USAA, where we do our banking, that is our “life happens” fund, and a harder-to-get to savings account with Ally that is our emergency fund), as well as our Vanguard investment accounts. We’re focused on increasing those taxable Vanguard holdings so that we can live on that money without paying tax penalties until we reach 59 1/2, when we can start accessing our 401ks without penalties.

      Good questions!

  9. ALL the Charts?! Mind: Blown. Love this update so much. You guys are an inspiration! Also… can’t wait to see those costumes… especially when you’re in your 60s!

    • Thanks, Maggie! The funny thing is this isn’t even ALL the charts, but it’s all the relatively simple charts, and all that we can share without divulging actual numbers. (I have this crazy multifactorial chart with all of our targets mapped together, but it’s a bit too messy for the blog.) :-)

      Haha — I can just picture us in our 60s, dressing up as health insurance. Though we hope by then we’ll have a better system figured out as a nation!

      Hope you guys have an awesome Halloween!

  10. Congrats on paying off over half of your mortgage! I hit that milestone last December and it was a great feeling. By the end of this year, my mortgage will be down to less than my annual base salary, which is also pretty exciting.

    I love that you’re Mr. Medicare and Ms. Obamacare! I assume that means that neither of you changed your names when you got married? Or I guess that could also just reference that one of you is Medicare and one is Obamacare and aren’t sharing the same name in that situation :)

    I’ve thought about not continuing to pay down my mortgage aggressively and carrying the mortgage into retirement. So then I did the math and realized that to have a 4% SWR to cover my mortgage payment (recasted), I would actually need to save up about 20% more than what my current mortgage balance is! So then I went back to planning on paying off the mortgage.

    I love that you guys have “oversaved” in your 401(k)s! I almost definitely have at this point and if not, will have in another few years. It’s worth the tax savings though so I’ll keep doing it so long as I’m in the 25% or higher tax bracket. My Roth IRA is also worth a decent chunk and if I keep contributing at this rate, it’ll also be in great shape for retirement – I will have many years’ expenses in the two of them. The tricky part is figuring out at what point to give up on the retirement accounts.

    My net worth only went down two months so far this year: January (stock market combined with 1/4 of my normal paycheck) and August (stock market combined with paying for my fall grad school class). It’s back up to a new high for October though!

    • Thanks, Leigh! You are correct that we have different last names. :-) We completely agree on the mortgage payoff — it would mean having to save more, AND (perhaps more importantly) it would force us to have more income in retirement to cover the mortgage payment, which would DQ us from the big Obamacare subsidies and be a terrible trade-off. Plus, we just want the house paid off! That counts for something.

      We think you can’t go wrong oversaving in your 401k, unless you’re sacrificing other goals to do so. But if you’re hitting your other targets (obviously you are), then yeah, keep going! And Roth has so much flexibility built in, that there’s no downside that we see (except that we can’t contribute!).

      Hooray for new peaks in October!

    • Paying off the mortgage is liberating beyond simply ending the payment. It is also a security blanket against job loss or other calamity. The backlash against paying off a mortgage always confuses me. Yes, you get an home IR write-off ,and yes, you can get higher yields with the money than the mortgage interest rate, but once my home was paid off (it also has rental units on the property), I was able to really relax. Along this theme, many people have SFRs while small many multi-family properties include an owner’s unit. Living in one unit (owner’s or otherwise) of a small MFD project allows for many benefits such as lower net mortgage payment, increasing rents over time and tax shelter from depreciation and other expenses. Once you pay off your 4-plex, you live “free” and have income from the other 3 units. The downside is potentially management and maintenance headaches, although you can hire a management company to do that and pretend to be a tenant like the other three units’ occupants.

      • I love that you put all of this in terms of peace of mind, not money, and that’s where we net out on it. It’s apples to oranges, really, and you can’t put a dollar figure on the peace of being debt-free and owning the roof over your head, right? ;-) Thanks for the tips on going multi-family. That’s definitely something we’re thinking about for way down the line. :-)

  11. Would you guys be able to share your asset allocation details (just percents)? I’m guessing you’re primarily in Vanguard funds, based on your comment about rolling your 401(k) there after you leave your job(s). If that’s the case, what funds are you using? And, what % stocks/bonds are you using? Do you have emergency cash in a savings account (e.g., Ally)? Thanks for sharing details on your plans.

    • Hi Matthew — Happy to share. You can see more about our allocations broadly in this post (, and as a philosophy, we’ve been heavily influenced by this breakdown from Vanguard ( Right now we have a mix in our taxable accounts of about 80% investments, 20% cash (1/3 at USAA for “life happens”, 2/3 at Ally for emergency), but we draw that cash down a bit over the course of each year as we dollar cost average into our Vanguard account. On the investment side, our breakdown is very close to 70% stocks, 30% bonds. For bonds, we’re primarily invested in Vanguard’s Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBTLX). For stocks, the biggest share is in the S&P 500 Index Fund (VFIAX), a favorite of early retiree index investors, with about half as much in the Extended Market Index Fund (VEXAX). All the usual caveats apply — we’re not financial advisors, we have no licenses to talk about this stuff. This is just our chronicle of our experience, and what you do with this info is your business. :-)

  12. Okay – the fact that you have a plan b, c, d, e, f and you’re working on g is INCREDIBLE. You guys seriously rock, and I love learning about your plans & in ‘comment form’ rooting for you both along your journey! :) Just as Matthew Swanson mentioned in the comment above (on asset allocation), I am curious too! Right now, I have quite a bit of time and my Vanguard 401(k) allocation is incredibly risky (more weighted in REITs, international funds, stocks, etc.). If you do feel comfortable enough to share your portfolio percentages, I would love to learn! Also – do you have a strategy in place to rebalance/reallocate when you are 1 year, 5 months, etc. prior to your early retirement date (maybe you have already done so to be more conservative in these last 2.2 years)?

    • Thanks, Alyssa! We love engaging with you, too. :-)

      Here’s what we just wrote to Matthew: Right now we have a mix in our taxable accounts of about 80% investments, 20% cash (1/3 at USAA for “life happens”, 2/3 at Ally for emergency), but we draw that cash down a bit over the course of each year as we dollar cost average into our Vanguard account. On the investment side, our breakdown is very close to 70% stocks, 30% bonds. For bonds, we’re primarily invested in Vanguard’s Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBTLX). For stocks, the biggest share is in the S&P 500 Index Fund (VFIAX), a favorite of early retiree index investors, with about half as much in the Extended Market Index Fund (VEXAX).

      No idea if this is the ideal mix (does anyone really know?), but we’re comfortable here, and feel like it’s a good balance of potential risk and reward!

      On the rebalancing Q, we’re mostly staying moderately aggressive on our investments, since *most* of our retirement is still decades away. We will keep shifting our cash holdings as we get closer to retirement so that we have about 2-2.5 years of living expenses in cash on retirement day, so that we won’t be forced to sell shares if the market crashes, and we’ll gradually convert shares to cash via the same dollar cost averaging strategy that we use now to invest (assuming no market plummets — we’ll hold off on selling shares in that case!). Our feeling is that most of the traditional advice on asset reallocation is less appropriate for early retirees than it is for people in their 60s, so we probably won’t shift too far away from our 70/30 stock/bond ratio anytime soon. But we’ll report back in 25 years, when we are closer to traditional retirement age! ;-)

  13. That chart of your 2015 net worth … I just got my 3Q statement on my 457 (b), which is mostly high risk investments, since I’m only contributing 4% right now…. it basically looked just like that :)

    Very interesting to see your graphs! I was particularly surprised to see that y’all have only paid off half of your mortgage, but of course your plan makes sense. If y’all decide to downsize, would you stay in the same town or relocate? Moving is so damn expensive!

    • Thank you for that reality check — we tend to get a bit self congratulatory about paying off half our mortgage in four years, but I laughed out loud that it’s not proportionally that much given that we want it paid off in two years! At least we’re on track. :-) And yeah, our thinking *if* we downsize would be to stay in our town, which we love. Moving is expensive, realtor fees are expensive, closing costs are expensive… we have a LOT of reasons to stay put!

  14. Love charts, love graphs, love Hyperbole and a Half, love Ms. Obamacare and Mr. Medicare as Halloween costume ideas (there’s still time!), love everything here. Why did I spend most of my life thinking money was boring?
    A lot of the details of your situation are far outside the scope of my personal experience (due to my current negative net worth and lack of a 401k…), so this is good stuff for me to learn. Plus I feel excited just looking at all of your planning and beautiful upward progress!

    • Thanks! If you take a look at our charts, you’ll see that most of them take a steep rise between 2011 and 2013 (and if we had the data to go waaaaay back, the steep rise would be even more pronounced), showing when we got serious about saving. It’s a good reminder to us that good (big!) things can happen pretty darn fast if you really set your mind to it. So even if this stuff doesn’t feel like it fits you right now, I bet it will sooner than you think. :-)

  15. Thx for sharing this. It helps to understand your situation and puts some more context around ONL.

    The grap with the funding per year is an interesting one. It is most definitely one I should make when we get closer to our FIRE date. It helps to make visualize how all the different accounts will do their job. Just like in the US, here in Belgium, I have money in accounts that become available at pension age only. Right now, it is one pile of money, but it needs to be split up for sure.

    The different back up plans you have are a great source for piece of mind. well done
    I imagine that I also would continue to maw out a 401K as long as I work. Why pay more taxes and why leave company money on the table?

    • Thanks, Amber. Yeah, for us to have peace of mind about it all, we had to know that we had enough money saved, not just overall, but in the right accounts that we could access at different times. Knowing when we’ll need it lets us better project how much we need in each bucket — definitely something we’d recommend everyone do at least a few years before retiring!

  16. Wow you have a very thorough plan for retirement – I am not there yet but should work that out. Congrats on the mortgage “cross over”. Great milestone to reach and great update overall.

    • Thanks! Of course you’re not seeing the years leading up to all of this when we dealt with our debt and put ourselves in the position to save as fast as we do now. It definitely took time! And thanks for the encouragement!

  17. Y’all have a well thought out plan! I still don’t have a true plan outlined- just saving as much as I comfortable can.

    The thing that keeps me awake at night about early retirement is the thought of healthcare expenses. My questions are truly for information purposes, not because I’m trying to undermine your efforts- what is the cost of the subsidized health care that you expect to have? And how good is that medical coverage? Would there be a high out of pocket cost in the event that someone has a major illness?

    I work in healthcare, and have many patients who tell me that they can’t afford their medicines, hospital bills or basic office visit bills. And in many cases, these are people who have insurance or Medicare! It frightens me to think of the cost of insurance PLUS out of pocket costs!!!!!

    • Hi Mrs C. The Obamacare calculation is dependent on a number of factors, but you can do some calculations at Root of Good also did a pretty good breakdown of the income limitations early this year at We’re writing a big post to come out soon on this very topic, and what our calculations are. Bottom line for now: We’re trying to keep our earned income in retirement very low, so that we can stay well in the heavily subsidized category. We’re planning for a silver plan for higher (these are generally the same across all states, though prices vary slightly), and have budgeted for the maximum OOP costs allowed by each plan for the year. Of course, if we can keep our incomes super duper low and qualify for the “super silver” plan, we’ll be even happier!

      One thing I’ll say, too, which doesn’t get talked about enough, and which I’m sure you agree with since you work in health care — many of the costs incurred by people are for fully preventable conditions like diabetes and heart disease. We don’t blame people who have these issues, as society does not generally set people up to be healthy. But, as individuals, we can make the choice to eat right, minimize stress, get lots of exercise, and avoid smoking and alcohol. That’s a huge part of our “health care plan” as well!