Is an HSA Your Best Friend for Early Retirement?

Shobin Uralil

Early retirement takes dedication, planning and expert tax-savings. While your personal strategy might be unique, clearly the more you save of your own money, the faster it can grow. Let us show you how to leverage an HSA to get to retirement faster.

Unparalleled Tax-Savings

An HSA offers unparalleled tax-savings. It is the only savings account on the market that allows for tax-deductible contributions, tax-free growth, and tax-free distributions (as long as they are used for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses).

Low-Cost Healthcare

It’s likely that in early retirement, you will still require healthcare, before Medicare starts. HSA-eligible healthcare plans like high deductible health plans (HDHP) are the most cost-effective health insurance on the market. Their lower monthly premiums ensure you keep your fixed costs low. Their set out-of-pocket yearly maximums set the ceiling for any unexpected health costs, capping your financial exposure.

Coupling an HDHP with an HSA ensures you have pre-tax funds ready for any health expenses that come your way this year or in years to come. Those pre-tax funds limit your tax-liability and effectively reduce the real-dollar costs of medical expenses.

Like a 401(k), but Better

You want options. Savings options. Investing options. Tax options. HSAs enable all three. An HSA is like a 401(k), but better. It provides the dedicated funds you want later in life but doesn’t lock those funds until 59 and 1/2 years of age like a 401(k) (unless you are willing to pay tax penalties).

You can use tax-free HSA funds for qualified medical expenses today or save them for tomorrow. In fact, after the age of 65, those funds can be used for anything, just like a 401(k) – just pay taxes. No penalty.

Additionally, HSAs don’t require mandatory distributions in retirement. You can let your HSA investments grow into your 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Self-Directed Investing

Early retirement requires an independent mindset. HSAs allow you to apply that mentality to self-directed investing. This ensures you can tailor your HSA investments as part of a larger savings strategy. Please check with your current or prospective HSA provider, so you can invest in what you want. Maybe a low-cost ETF?

An HSA ensures you maximize your tax savings and better prepare for future health costs. The result is more tax-free savings and investment options for early retirement. Use an HSA as an effective tax-savings and investment strategy for both healthcare and retirement. Turns out HSAs are great for both!

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Top 8 Reliable, Easy, and Convenient Online Money-Making Methods for Retirees




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A Trip through Veneto

Ed Walker

There is practically no place in Italy which is not worth seeing. With its rich cultural and architectonic heritage and its wonderful natural landscapes, Italy is one of the best countries in the world to go for a holiday. While still planning for your holiday, you should check for travel insurance, you can save if you apply for more than one package, like car insurance for instance. Although large cities like Rome, Palermo or Naples rank highest as tourist destinations, they can sometimes be tiresome, especially if you’re interested in a more tranquil holiday. The Veneto region, on the other hand, could be exactly what you are looking for.

Gondolas in a small canal in Dorsoduro district, Venice, Veneto, Italy

Situated in the northeastern side of Italy, Veneto comprises world-famous cities full of history and culture such as Venice, Padua, or Verona, as well as picturesque natural landscapes, such as the Euganean hills, the Dolomite Mountains, the Adriatic Sea, or the Garda Lake. The best way to reach this region is to fly to its capital, Venice, and, after spending a day or two in this wonderful and highly peculiar city, rent a car and take a leisurely ride through its other famous places.

Venice, a city situated across a group of 118 islands separated by canals and connected by over 400 bridges, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting up to 30 million tourists per year. Besides its geographical peculiarity and quaintness, Venice is also famous for historical landmarks such as St. Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal, Piazza San Marco, or the Doge’s Palace, and for the important international events and festivals it hosts, including the Carnival of Venice, Venice Biennale, and the Venice Film Festival.

However, Venice can often be overcrowded and your stay there, although extremely interesting, might not be as relaxed as you would want to. If tired of hectic Venice, jump into a car and start exploring the surrounding areas. There are at least two other impressive cities in Veneto which you should not miss: Padua, famous for its dense network of arcaded streets, its old and renowned University of Padua (established in 1222), where figures such as Galilei and Copernico worked, and its wonderful landmarks like the imposing St. Anthony Basilica, the Palace of Reason, the Botanical Garden (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where Goethe did some of its botanical research), or the Scroveni Chapel (containing breathtaking murals by Giotto); and Verona, the city of Shakespeare’s famous lovers, Romeo and Juliet, with its ancient Roman edifices and monuments (including the Roman Arena and Theatre), its Medieval and Renaissance architecture, and its thriving artistic and musical scene, including the lyrical season at the Arena, where renowned operas and symphonic pieces are performed in front of up to 15,000 spectators.

If you want to get in touch with nature, Veneto can offer you many possibilities too. The Euganean Hills are perfect for leisurely strolls, offering beautiful sights which inspired poets like Petrarch or Shelley, and the possibility to enjoy the thermal baths from Abano or Montegrotto Terme. If you’re into more challenging activities though, such as skiing, hiking or BASE jumping, the Dolomite Mountains are what you need. And if you like swimming, sunbathing or boating, you have two choices in Veneto: either visit the amazing seaside resorts from the Adriatic Sea’s coast, including Lido, Jesolo and Sottomarina, or take a trip to the fantastic Garda Lake near Verona, the largest (370 square km) and most visited Italian lake.

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Money Moves That Can Help You Retire Early



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Fun Games to Help Your Senior Loved One Exercise the Mind

Lori Thomas

We all know about the importance of exercise and what it can do for the body. However, as we age, it is just as important that we take the time to really exercise the mind. If you want to help your senior loved one stretch their mental muscles—there are so many fun ways that you can help. Brain teasers, puzzles and games are all really important for seniors as they age. They help keep the mind sharp and make sure that different areas of the brain that many not normally be activated are getting a bit of a workout.

Ready to have some fun? Here are a few games that are great for all types of seniors and help improve their concentration, memory and thinking skills all while they have a little fun at the same time.


This is a great game for seniors to play on their own or with a friend. This numbers game is popular in puzzle books, magazines and newspapers and there are also plenty of apps that you can download to play on-the-go as well. This game will challenge critical thinking and problem solving skills and come in a variety of levels from easy to difficult—meaning there are puzzles for every type of player.


This game has been around for ages, but it is still as fun as ever. You can still order the original board game version of Boggle or try one of the apps that is available on most tables or smart phone. When the game randomly puts together a grid of different letters, the players have a limited amount of time to find as many words as possible. This is another fun game that seniors can play on their own or with a friend and it challenges their critical thinking and linguistic skills at the same time.


Memory has a great benefit for seniors, for obvious reasons. Many seniors struggle with memory issues as they age and sometimes playing memory-centered games for a few minutes a day can really help! Memory can be played with a card set, on the computer, through an app or you can play verbal memory games whenever you are sitting around the home.

Banana Grams

Looking for a fun and silly game to play with your senior loved one? Check out Bananagrams. You can buy it on Amazon, or wherever games are sold and enjoy a fun silly game that encourages you to make and connect words. Similar to games like Scrabble that can challenge the thinking skills, this word game is all about pushing the linguistic part of the brain. However, the best part is that the winner gets to shout “Bananas!” when they’re done to signify they’ve won.

Lumosity Brain Games

If you log online to, you will find a massive collection of games and puzzles that will tease the brain and help work out the mind muscles. The best part about these games is that they are free, and you can download an app right on your phone or tablet. You can even choose what type of teaser you prefer so your senior can work on areas of the brain they really want to work on whether it is attention, speed and memory, verbal fluency or problem solving.

These games are all fun ways to challenge the mind, so next time your senior loved one is looking for something fun to do give these brain teasers a try and see first-hand how beneficial they can be!

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Downsizing Once the Kids have Left Home

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Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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With all your traveling, where do you keep your important papers?

Q&A with a Reader

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My husband and I have been following you for some time now and we will be retiring in June of this year. We are getting ready to travel the world and look forward to making memories in most of the destinations you have lived in.

Our question is where do you keep your important paper records ( investment, will, birth certificates, marriage license and month to month papers)?

We know you recommend a mail service but while traveling what do you do with important  monthly papers?  If the internet is not great at some of the locations does paperless work?  We will have a turn key home base in the USA but hope to be away from it for maybe 9 months out of the year.

Your suggestions are welcomed.

Thank you so much.

With gratitude,


Relaxing by the beach

Hi Marie,

Thanks for writing. And congratulations on your upcoming retirement! How exciting!

Marie, about 99% of our mail – important papers, financial statements, credit card billings, and so on – are all done online. We have been paperless for about 15 years.

Our brokerage firms (Fidelity and Vanguard) offer paperless statements and Fidelity offers a free check writing service that we utilize when we need to send a physical check to someone. Otherwise we PayPal money to friends and family with no fee.

In regards to our wills and marriage certificate, we have them stored with a trusty friend. Alternatively, you could put them in a bank vault or leave them with family. Birth certificates we carry with us, as sometimes we need them when we travel. If we were to lose them, we’d simply have another one sent to us from the county office in the county in which we were born. We also have a digital copy of our marriage certificate.

Traveling Mailbox (the service we use) can physically mail us anything we receive should we want a physical copy, otherwise they will scan the item and we can read it online, then ask them to shred it or forward it to us anywhere in the world.

Right now, the only monthly papers we are receiving are the ones from Social Security and Medicare, and we don’t really want all that paper sent to us, so we peruse online and then have them shredded.

Since we are on Medicare, and we have no US based health care insurance, we have no booklets, and no EOBs or paperwork sent to us. We utilize medical tourism as we travel and pay out-of-pocket.

Traveling Mailbox can be purchased by the month or by the year, as you see fit in your travel schedule. We purchase their services for the year, and then receive 2 months for free. We find that to be very convenient.

I hope you have found this information to be useful. Feel free to write if you have another question.

Wishing you the best in your travels and in your upcoming retirement.

Best Regards,


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When Is Enough Money Enough? How Do You Just Stop Working?

Q&A with a Reader

Hi Billy, Akaisha,

Just listened to your broadcast on youtube.

Wow! you guys are the pioneers of this movement. Congrats on your success.

I am well on my way to following your lead. I currently live in southern Thailand, still telecommuting for work back in the US but I am almost at the point of stopping. It was very encouraging to hear that you have been able to live off of your investments for such a long time.

I have a question, and I’m sure you have heard this many times before, how do you know when enough is enough? I mean, my investments would cover my expenses, at least if I stick to the 4% rule but how did you come to pull the trigger and just stop?

When you come back to Thailand, let’s get together. I would love to chat.



Surfing in southern Thailand is great fun!

Hi Spencer,

Thank you for taking the time to write. We are very happy that you enjoyed our interview with Mad Fientist.

How much is enough is a question we asked ourselves when we were preparing to leave the conventional working world, and it is a question that we are asked often today. The answer is individual, of course, depending on the style of retirement you want to live. But to give you an idea of how to figure that out, you would take the amount of spending you are doing today to live the life you are living now, and multiply that by 25. That Dollar amount is the figure you need to have in invested assets in order to throw off enough income plus enough to cover inflation.

Over the last almost 3 decades of world travel, our annual spending is still under $30,000USD per year and we have more money now than we did when we first retired.

We knew we wanted to travel the world

As far as how we were able to “pull the trigger” and let go of our jobs and current lives and jump into our undefined futures… There were a couple of things. One for certain, is that we were being pulled by our dreams of a better lifestyle – one of travel, free time, personal creativity and continuous learning. In other words, we were being pulled forward instead of trying to escape something we had.

We made a list of all the things we wanted to do, wanted to learn, places we wanted to visit, etc., so that when we left our jobs, we knew what we were going to do on day one. So it wasn’t a complete unknown. It wasn’t like we were jumping into a void.

That being said, we did sort of “Jump into the Volcano” (it was a popular Tom Hanks movie at the time) and trusted ourselves enough to figure things out. We didn’t diddle and daddle and over analyze every little thing. We took 2 years to track our spending, knew what we needed financially, had our list together, and dreamed ourselves into our future.

How much money would we need to retire?

There were certainly some unexpected things we had to face… as you can read here… but we have never regretted our decision.

I hope you find my answer useful, and do feel free to write any time.

Thanks again for your interest in our story.

Best Regards, and wishing you the best of everything,

Akaisha and Billy

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Transitioning to Retirement; The Housing Conundrum

Q&A with a Reader

Disclosure: Some links on this site, like the Amazon links, may be affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and buy from the affiliated company, then we receive some small compensation. The modest income helps to keep this blog going. Affiliate links do not increase your cost, and we only use them for products or services that we’re familiar with and that we feel may deliver value to you.


I wrote to you a few years ago.

At the time, I was considering retiring in Brazil in a home that we own.  My wife is from there and her family lives close by.  To qualify for permanent residence I have to stay there for 6 months.

I have now reached the “magic” age of 62 and after 44 years in my technology career, I’m looking forward to retirement but I don’t intend to sit around and do nothing.

In Brazil, I can teach English or technology part-time or help my wife in some of her small businesses such as renting out kayaks on the beach or parking cars in our parking lot.

I recently purchased your latest Retire Early Q&A  volumes 1 and 2 and The Adventure’s Guide to Early Retirement.

You’ve mentioned that you have investments in the U.S.  Most brokerage firms require a U.S. address to maintain an account.  I’m guessing you use your residence in Arizona to satisfy that requirement.

You also mention that housing is the largest expense.  I totally agree.  I do not own a home in the U.S. but we would like to come back for visits.  Most of our family is here in New England.

The cost of housing can take a chunk out of your retirement budget

We considered purchasing a 3 or 4 unit building and keeping one of the apartments for ourselves but then we would have to hire a property manager when we traveled for long periods.

The other option is to do what you did, purchase a manufactured home in a park.  In New England, sometimes the homes are expensive but the park fee is low.  In other cases, the homes are cheap but the fee is much higher.

I’m curious as to what you are paying for a park fee in Arizona.  Maybe I should move there or to Florida – LOL.

Best Regards,


Hi Paul,

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. Sounds wonderful!

To answer your question about maintaining a US address for your brokerage account, we utilize Traveling Mailbox. You can read about the features and benefits here.

Do you need to keep a home in the US?

In terms of housing being the largest expense in any household, and the idea of your purchasing a domicile in the States so that you can visit family… I sincerely would recommend house sitting. Chances are there are people in your New England location who want to travel and need someone to look after their home and/or pet. In this way you are not purchasing property and saddling yourself with insurance payments, maintenance, property taxes, or having to deal with renters, a property manager, a gardener or anything of this sort.

House sitting allows you to stay in someone’s home (for free, usually) in exchange for watching over their pet and belongings. We know of people who travel the world house sitting in one country after another. Many of the home owners ask the sitters to come back year after year, and strong friendships are created in this manner. AND it suits everyone’s needs. I would certainly give it some thought as an alternative to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in purchasing property.

If you would like some other ideas for housing, take a look at our Travel Housing Page or our Housing Options Page. You might find the information here to be useful.

In case you have not read about our manufactured home in AZ, here is our piece on Worry-Free Housing. Since we chose not to purchase the property, our annual Lifestyle Fees are a modest amount, less that you would pay to rent an apartment in the same city.

Active Adult Communities have many amenities

I hope you find this information to be useful to you. If you have further questions, feel free to write to us any time.

Sending you our best regards, and looking forward to hearing from you again sometime.

Akaisha and Billy

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We have an obligation to serve the poor and the homeless

Comment from a Reader 

I have a neighbor who retired at age 40, and she has seen the world as you have. She does humanitarian work, but most of it does not involve the homeless and the poor, for those are the ugly pictures, the ones which cry out for your help, elderly bagging groceries, and little children who know only that they are uncomfortable, for mothers know nothing about grooming them.

I only wish to know who takes care of the majority of the world when we all go out into the kingdoms made for those who flee from one adventure to the other.

We do have an obligation to serve the poor and the homeless.

How does this fit in to your quest?


Billy with hill tribe children, Thailand

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for taking the time to write.

It is our perspective that becoming financially independent is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and the world.

When we are no longer enslaved to our paycheck with the corresponding pressures to maintain a job to pay our bills, we have the time and the finances to give back.

Each person is able to give according to their skills. Perhaps one person has the talent to invent a product to assist mankind in one form or another. Maybe someone else dedicates their time installing clean water in villages that don’t have it. Another teaches English so that the local poor can move up in the world and bring their knowledge and income back to their village. Other people spend their time educating young women who are known to go back to their village and uplift, teach, or mentor other young girls… and the entire village benefits.

Akaisha with indigenous Maya friend, Petrona

There are countless ways to volunteer and to give back.  Medically trained people donate their time and expertise for free to those in need – as was done in our previous home base of Panajachel, Guatemala. Those who are trained in horticulture are helping locals plant sustainable crops. Others offer mini-loans to help small business people (many of them women) to get started so they can purchase shoes, clothing and school supplies for their children.

We are aware of so many of these things happening as we seem them in our travels.

I’m unclear of what has formulated your perspective – thinking that “people” don’t give enough to the poor or homeless… Many good things are happening all around the world — all the time.

Besides volunteering ourselves (instructing, mentoring, building, supporting those in need) we make a point of disseminating information so others can volunteer in their retirement time. We connect people to projects often, and we publish what we can about certain projects that are making a difference in people’s lives.

Akaisha teaching Thai massage to local Mexican students

We encourage those who are leaving the working world to create a life of meaning in their retirement, not just spend their time in endless rounds of golf or bridge.

I am proud of what we do, of how we give back, and am amazed at the quality of people we have met who are supporting those in need…

It is my hope for you that you, too, will experience the exhilaration and satisfaction of giving back – whether it is in your own home town and neighborhood or if you travel to some faraway land.

Sending my best,


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