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.

John Greene
John Greene
Age: 75
Retirement Age: 54
Residence: Pine Plains, N.Y.
Career: Trader
"For about 30 years I was a specialist on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. The unwritten rule was that when you turned 50, you were out. I was a few years past that when I decided to leave before they dropped the ax.

"I left in September of 1987, shortly before the crash. That was sheer luck. Right after I retired, I was in a sculpture class, and the market was down 500 points. I had a headset on, and a classmate asked, 'What are you listening to?' I said, 'I'm listening to the Dow.' And she said, 'What is the Dow?' I knew I was in another life.

"I have owned a 1790 farmhouse in the Hudson Valley since 1971, and when I decided to retire, my wife and I built a large studio addition. I began to paint and sculpt in earnest, something I had always done but never had the time or energy to focus on.

"I spend about five days a week in the studio and have had more than 30 exhibitions at galleries in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Palm Beach. The money I earn from selling my work, I use to collect the work of other artists.

"I get monthly income from leasing my three seats on the Amex. My wife, Gwen, who is in private client services at Bear Stearns, manages the balance of my money, rolling over my 401(k) into an IRA and investing my assets in bonds (25 percent) and equities (50 percent) and the balance in hedge and private equity funds.

"Painting is not just keeping me busy. It is a transfer of commitment. If your retirement doesn't match the intensity of your work life, it's not going to be the same level of satisfaction."

John Greene

Nancy Mueller

Connie Davies

Bruce Entin

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