Retirement isn’t normally a high priority on young workers’ lists. But this 41-year-old single mother not only secured her bag but did so in the biggest way possible.
CNBC has the story of Lakisha Simmons, who retired with almost $1 million in her retirement fund ($850,000 to be exact), having worked since she was 14-years-old.
Although she comes from a working-class family, Simmons worked as an associate professor at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Between her full-time job and her side hustles, Simmons was able to bring in $150,000 in 2020.
But Simmons had set a goal for herself: retire by the time she was 45-years-old. So, she deployed what’s known as the FIRE Method — “financial independence, retire early” — which is also popularly known as an extreme saving method. Simmons sold her home (to get rid of her mortgage of $2,400/month), cut down on all her expenses (switched to a prepaid cell phone plan, made meals at home), and saved $100,000 in the first year.
“Simmons keeps more than 50% of her investment portfolio in an S&P 500 index fund, around 25% of her money in a total stock market index, and the rest in a mix of bonds and ‘some individual stocks in companies like Apple and Amazon,’” reported the outlet, who revealed that she initially planned to retire when she hit $1 million in her retirement fund, but ultimately stopped when she fell just shy of the mark due to burnout brought, in part, by teaching remotely thanks to the pandemic.
“My investments have grown even though I haven’t contributed anything since I left my job on May 31, 2021,” she said to CNBC. “Now I have around $910,000.”
Congratulations on your retirement, Lakisha!
What does the retirement bag look like for Americans?
While Lakisha Simmons’s story is certainly inspiring — unfortunately, there’s a racial wealth gap in retirement, too.
Investopedia reports that while Americans, as a whole, don’t have enough money saved for retirement, it’s even more pronounced amongst minority populations.
According to their findings, “More than half of Black and Latinx households have no retirement savings at all; less than a third of White households are without retirement assets. Black and Latinx households who do have savings have less put away towards their retirement.”
In 2019, the average white American had nearly $80,000 saved in their retirement fund, while the average Asian-American had nearly $70,000 saved in their retirement fund.
But Black Americans only have $29,200 in their retirement fund, according to Investopedia.