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‘We’re on track to retire at 50 by living off half our salaries on no spend year’

NICOLA Richardson and her husband Dave are doing a "no-spend year" so they can retire by the time they turn 50.

The mum-of-two has worked out they can achieve their dreams of quitting work early if they cut out takeaways, clothes and toy shopping for a whole year, reports Times Money Mentor.

Nicola Richardson and her family are six months into the 12-month challenge
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Nicola Richardson and her family are six months into the 12-month challenge

Nicola, 33, and postman Dave, 37, are six months into the 12-month challenge and so far they've saved £3,297 on a combined income of £42,000 a year.

They hope to live off £18,000 a year in retirement and estimate that they need £306,000 before they can give up their jobs.

This is on top of their state and workplace pensions but the couple won't be able to claim them until they turn 67 - the expected retirement age for men and women by 2026.

The family-of-four hopes to save £10,000 in 2020 but admits that the family have had to cut out a lot in order to achieve it.

Alfie, four, and his brother Charlie, two, have given up asking their parents for new plastic toys
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Alfie, four, and his brother Charlie, two, have given up asking their parents for new plastic toys

Nicola said: "So no clothes for us adults and only when needed for the children.

"There has been minimal purchasing of toys – they don’t need any more! No meals out, no takeaway food.

"We don’t pay for any streaming services. No books, magazines. Our food budget is £50 a week for a family of four."

The couple from Darlington, County Durham, have two children - Alfie, four, and Charlie, two - and put away £700 every month into a stocks and shares Isa.

They've now got £38,000 tucked away in the account, five years on from when they first opened it.

Our 'no spend' year

THE family have made some sacrifices to enable them to save £10,000 in their "no spend

  • Investing £700 a month into a stocks and shares Isa
  • Overpays the monthly mortgage payments by £185
  • Gave up spend money on clothes and toys
  • Deleted shopping apps and unsubscribed from mailing lists to avoid being tempted to spend
  • Cut back on buying clothes for the children
  • Stop buying takeaways and eating out
  • Swapping new toys for days out, picnics and hiking
  • Be flexible. The odd spend here and there can have a positive personal impact.

Of course, the risk with an investment Isa is that you can lose cash if share prices drop - Nicola says they were on track to gain around £1,600 this year from dividends but it now seems unlikely due to the coronavirus crisis.

They're strong supporters of an extreme saving movement called the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE), which focuses on breaking free from the conventional system of work until state retirement age.

FIRE is US-based ideology that emphasises becoming self-sufficient through investing and home ownership.

The super savers started their own FIRE journey back in 2015 but have adjusted the strict saving habits to suit their lifestyle.

Nicola blogs about her restricted spending habits - which she admits didn't come naturally overnight - at the Frugal Cottage and on her YouTube channel.

They say the aim is to retire by 50 but if they end up retiring at 55 then "that's okay too".

They've done the maths and worked out they will need to save £306,000 to be able to live off £18,000 a year in the 17 years between retiring and being of pension age.

They hope to have paid their mortgage off by 2030 so it won't eat into their living costs by the time they give up work.

As well as the cash they plough into their Isa, they try to overpay their mortgage by £185 a month. This is on top of the £737 monthly payments.

But it's not always possible to be so frugal - last month they had to dip into their savings to pay for an MOT, and last year they spent £45,000 on an extension on their house.

Nicola says that her followers often get the impression that she denies herself some of the more fun things in life but she insists that's not true.

"We have a lovely home, car, go on holiday, and the boys have gymnastics and football classes, swimming and soft play," she added.

A new money-saving app reckons it can boost your bank balance by up to £1,500 a year by giving you personalised savings ideas.

Earlier this year, Martin Lewis explained how auto-saving apps could save you £1,000s.

A couple of years ago, another new app claimed it could help you save up to £600 by ditching unnecessary fees and subscriptions.

A version of this story first appeared on Times Money Mentor.

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