You can save your retirement even if you didn’t set aside $1 million

The couple had a luxurious home, and Gottberg’s husband was earning a decent amount of money, but their savings was not as healthy as they would have liked. They decided to look for something a bit smaller. The home they gave up had a pool, a spa, a three-car garage and four bedrooms — just for the two of them.

“We looked at what that house was costing us,” Gottberg said. “We were spending $3,500 a month.” As self-employed people without children, they knew they couldn’t rely on anyone.

After some house-hunting, they decided on a somewhat smaller home in a slightly less upscale neighborhood. Their first house had enough equity that they could buy the second one without a mortgage. They did some remodeling to boost energy efficiency. “Our utilities are probably less than $500 a year,” Gottberg said.

Without homeowners association fees and more expensive utilities, their monthly expenses took a nosedive — and they can still entertain friends in the new house. Gottberg recommends shifting your mindset to determine what you really need.

Rightsizing is more than simple downsizing, Gottberg says. It is about living with purpose. “I feel more wealthy than lots of people my age,” she said. “My husband says it is about freedom and peace of mind.”

When Gottberg and her husband scouted the options, rightsizing felt like a series of conscious choices that would pay off in the long run — rather than sacrificing anything.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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