Wealth + Health Diaries Real-Life Stories from Real-Life People – John & Janet





Curious how your spending and money management stack up? In this series, we talk to real folks just like you, who’ve shared their tales of spending, saving, and searching for loose change.


Today, we hear from John and Janet, a 67-year-old part-time farmer and a 64-year-old missions coordinator at their church in northwest Indiana. They’ll have been married 45 years this year, but they’ll tell you the fun is just ramping up. John and Janet are on the verge of being “officially” retired. They have planned and prepped for this time of their lives not only in the financial space but also through exercising and eating well. They have started filling up their passports with stamps from trips around the world to build schools and church buildings. Just recently, they even had to send their passport books off to get more pages. Check out where John and Janet are headed next and how they made it all possible.



Occupation: Farmer & church missions coordinator

Industry: Farming & ministry
Age: 67, 64
Location: Northwest Indiana


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 Income: $120,000 (combination of church salary, rents from the farmland we own, and Social Security)

Roth IRA (per month): We are no longer contributing, but holding on to this and not withdrawing as a good backup plan.
Savings (per month): $500

Employer-sponsored retirement plan (per month)N/A


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Housing costs: $350/mo (HOA, taxes). We moved to a lake house six years ago and paid it off in three years.

Groceries and home supplies: $360

Gas: $240

Dining out: $300

Loans: $3,000 to pay off the family farm, will be completely debt-free in five years

Health, dental & vision insurance: $500 

Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $120

Life insurance premium: $60
Utilities: $100
Internet/digital: $80

Cable: $0 – Included in internet/digital
Lawn service: 
$0 – We do it ourselves, keeps us busy.
Cell phone: 

Memberships: $40 – Gym memberships for both of us.
Pet grooming: 
Credit card debt payments: 
$0 – We pay many of our bills — grocery, gas, and discretionary spending — using our credit card for the miles. But, we pay it off in full every month and do not carry a balance.

Charitable donations: $1,000


How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?

When the kids were young we would look at each other and say, “Retirement? Ha! In our dreams.” After two failing businesses when we were first married and three kids in 5 years, it seemed like we would always be underwater. Other than about 10 years, we’ve been entrepreneurs for the majority of our 45 years together. We’ve started four businesses, two failed and had to think out-of-the-box to put together a retirement plan. While we weren’t able to invest much traditionally in retirement at the beginning of our careers, we were investing in our company and farm. That ended up creating quite a few possibilities for us later in life to catch-up for retirement.


If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?

When we had a young family, Jan earned the name “Generic Jan.” Even as the different businesses were doing well, she was still very frugal. Giving and saving are two very strong pillars for us. That meant we shopped at thrift stores, used coupons, and didn’t go on extravagant vacations. But as soon as we were able, we started investing in our retirement. Also, to teach our kids the value of their college education, we had them pay for half of it.


What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?

We’re excited for the opportunity to mix it up with traveling, mission trips, and family time in our golden years. We love going on short-term mission trips to build schools all over the world, and we would like to go to live in another country to run a bed and breakfast. When we’re home, John will be helping our son on the farm, and Janet will be volunteering at a local school as a tutor. As far as travel goes, it is on our bucket list to visit every continent. Six down and one to go! We just got back from adventuring in Antarctica, and we are heading to China in the fall.


What does “health” mean to you?

For the first time in our lives, we’re able to exercise regularly. We also keep ourselves on a pretty strict diet when we’re not getting together with friends. We both watched our parents become immobile too quickly into retirement. As our grandkids are growing up and becoming so much of our lives, we aren’t ready to slow down yet. So we make sure we get good sleep, go to the doctor regularly, play strategy games to keep our minds sharp, exercise every day, and eat great food. Health means staying sharp and feeling great. Every year we gauge how we’re doing if we’re still able to water ski in the summer and snow ski in the winter. So far so good.


Are there luxuries that you always need to include in your budget? Housecleaner? Grocery shopper?

We aren’t sure if we consider this a luxury, but one of our main priorities is to give to our church, missionaries, and the organizations we believe in. This will continue for the rest of our lives. About five years ago, we started cleaning our own house, gotta get those steps in as much as possible.


In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you are wanting to invest in?

As we were saving for retirement, we wanted to build up more than just money. We also wanted to make sure a portion was a longer-term investment that would keep giving far past our time here on earth. We started buying farmland since we were farmers, and my son wanted to take over when we retired. So we always had some built-in renters for it. The land has been a great investment, and it is fun seeing our grandchildren take an interest in the farm.


What intimidates you in planning for retirement or what questions do you still have?

We weren’t sure if we would ever make it here. We did, and we are having a blast. Our passport books are getting full and we are thrilled to still have our health and great family and friends.



John and Janet are keeping active every morning and gearing up for their retirement. As they look forward to their golden years, they feel like all of their hard work and worry was worth it. Do you feel like you’re not quite there yet? Check out this article for some tips on how you can create a retirement strategy in the midst of economic uncertainty.






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