How a Single Mom Retired at 49 with $1.3 million

Abu Mubarik September 19, 2022
Jackie Cummings Koski. CNBC Made It

Jackie Cummings Koski was raised by a single father in a family of six and money was always scarce, she says. As she struggled through college education, she vowed to break the yoke of poverty in her family, setting in motion a financial journey that dates back to when she was just a girl.

“We barely made it. We barely scraped by,” she tells CNBC Make It. “So as I went through college and started my own career, I always had this nagging feeling that I never wanted to be back in poverty again.”

Koski spent two decades working as an account manager at the data analytics firm LexisNexis. She never earned more than $80,000 per year while working for LexisNexis but she retired at the age of 49 with $1.3 million in her savings and investment.

According to her, she didn’t search for more lucrative opportunities throughout her career because she felt it could take away the precious time she could spend with her daughter. Nonetheless, she credits her former employees for guiding her to build a massive fortune.

“That helped grow my net worth tremendously. I was always wanting to be smart with the money that I had versus thinking that having a higher income was going to be the thing that got me ahead,” she said.

Koski became a millionaire at the age of 46 but stayed on the job until her net worth hit $1.3 million, which was enough for her to retire. As she put it, “I actually liked my job, so I wasn’t in any rush to run away. I wanted a little more of a cushion, so I worked for a couple more years.”

Koski used the 4% rule to figure out how much she needed to save. According to Business Insider, the “4% rule is a popular retirement rule that says you can safely withdraw 4% of your retirement fund in your first year after you retire. You can then take out the same amount each year (adjusted for inflation) for 25 years without depleting your funds.”

Besides using the 4% rule, she also deployed a series for financial measures to achieve her aim. First, she created a net-worth statement and figured out that she needed a $1 million net worth to live off of $40,000 a year in retirement.

“Once you know where you’re starting, you can move the needle in the right direction,” said Koski, who is a financial-literacy advocate and author of the book “Money Letters 2 My Daughter.”

Secondly, she maximized her employer-sponsored 401(k), Roth IRA, and health-savings account since 2009. Thirdly, she lived in areas with low cost of living. For instance, she kept her housing cost low by living in southwestern Ohio. According to Business Insider, she made $800 monthly mortgage payment. Fourthly, she improved her financial education by listening to podcasts and reading financial blogs.

“Having this outlet for my interest in investing really helped me to understand the stock market rather than fear it,” Koski said, which helped her to max her 401(k), Roth IRA, and HSA.

Finally, she built a post retirement career. After retiring, she built a career around offering financial workshops and presentations and made $5,000 as a result. Also, she earned money from her stock investments.

Now focused on coaching and financial planning, Koski has enrolled in a master’s degree in personal-finance planning and financial therapy at Kansas State University.

Last Edited by:Sedem Ofori Updated: September 19, 2022


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