Could you retire at 40? How about "retiring" for six months of the year? These Web sites describe the pleasures and pitfalls of early retirement. Sites provide online calculators and spreadsheets.

How to retire.

A fairly detailed guide at this site explains the many factors that will determine your status - prince or pauper - upon your retirement. For the savvy computer user, there are instructions on setting up a spreadsheet to determine how much money you need to sock away year by year.

Retire at 40?

It's doable on modest incomes, but only under some very strict conditions. For example, this article suggests that a 20-year-old can retire at 40 if he or she invests 20 percent of income at an average return of 12 percent. Realistic? You be the judge. Links on the page will allow you to use online calculators for retirement costs, savings estimates and life insurance needs. One link leads to a quiz to help you decide whether you can write your own will.


Half-year retirement.

Leave it to Mother Earth News to dig up this gem: a 1970 article by Irv Thomas, who claimed he had worked it all out and was setting off for the Canadian wilds to test his theory that retiring for six months of every year was preferable to the usual grind. Irv figured at the time that he could get by on $250 a month.

Irv turned 80 last year. He has updated his life story regularly online. It has been a countercultural journey, to say the least. Here is his site.

Retire early.

It sounds so good, but it looks really complicated. Retiring early requires you to plan not only how much money to save, but exactly how and when to spend it after you retire. There is lots of help with all the details here, including the first look we ever had at a legal way to take early withdrawals from an IRA without having to pay the hefty penalty.

Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or