What It Takes to Retire at 36
Lawyer had no cell phone, car for most of his adult life
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 6, 2014 11:34 AM CDT
Marc Hardekopf saved wisely.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Marc Hardekopf, 37, is no Silicon Valley pioneer or pro athlete; he graduated law school $65,000 in debt. Yet he's already retired, thanks to a combination of wise, early investments and a frugal lifestyle, CBS News reports. He worked as a lawyer in New York City government, maxing out retirement accounts and never making more than $100,000 a year. But he used the money he had strategically: A year after graduating at 23, he started saving cash, which piled up quickly thanks to compound interest; as CBS notes, saving $5,000 a year with a 9% return would bring you more than $2 million by the time you're 65.

"I focus on investment opportunities that have recently performed poorly and are due to generate above-average returns over the long term," says Hardekopf, who's also had help from his wife's work as a former corporate lawyer, CBS reports. But Hardekopf's success hasn't just been about investment know-how: He's also an extremely careful spender. He didn't have a cell phone until 2011 and got his first car just a few years ago. "The biggest regret that most American men have when they're on their death beds is that they didn't spend enough time with their families when they were young," says Hardekopf, who's got a seven-digit net worth. "If I don't have to work, I don't want to."

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Showing 3 of 37 comments
May 6, 2014 7:27 PM CDT
So many gaping holes in this story. Like how does someone $65k in debt and living in NYC save a nickel? And there is no such thing as a 9% interest investment since the 1980s. No, someone else is paying his bills, like the wife, or his parents or his trust fund. The math just isn't there. Oh, and 1 million dollars is not nearly enough to retire on at 36. I mean unless he dies at 55, that is.
May 6, 2014 4:05 PM CDT
well my cell phone which is a trac phone cost less than $10 a month, 2 dollars less than a san francisco cocktail which now is pushing $12. I am in the 1% and you don't know how hard it is to get by. Have you priced authentic Beluga caviar lately. Its just out of site and the same is true of french sparkling wine from the Champagne district. You might laugh but these are hardships for those who buy these necessities. For those of you who don't have a champagne and caviar taste, it may not mean anything but for those who can't live on a meager budget, well its really a hardship. Serious folks, I am in the 1 % that occupy always complains about but I always worked, saved, invested and most of all, learned from my mother, "don't waste money".
May 6, 2014 3:10 PM CDT
Never made more than $100k/year? Oh, the poor dear. How did he get by? His wife is a "former corporate lawyer"? Well, between Jack Sprat and his wife the platter was pretty clean, eh?