Retirement is one of the most frequent topics in personal finance blogosphere, next to perhaps saving money tips. Retirement is the destination of our financial journey. Almost all PF bloggers agree that there’s only one major aim to save for, retirement.
Question here is, what can you do now to take an early retirement? I am trying to put a picture of what is needed to achieve it.
The basic idea is, you should save for future, post-retirement, life while controlling spending now. The more you save and the clever you are in investing, the earlier you can take retirement.
Off-course if your work is enjoyable and you love to stick on, like me, you may not think of early retirement. Sadly, that’s not the case, most feel their job is just a medium to achieve other goals in life, so, most of us look for independence as early as possible. Relationship with boss/manager/employer, pressing home issues, health or other important duties are the reasons people often look for early retirement.
People want to go alone freeing their mind and body from the demands of a day job. A challenging job takes a toll on our mind and body, we can’t sustain for long putting long-hours, unless we manage to do it effortlessly. There’s no denying that often I feel stressed and exhausted because of extreme work pressure I go through to meet dead lines.
People, I know, cite these reasons for seeking out early retirement.
- Independence from drudgery and monotonous work.
- Fulfilling life’s other ambitions/goals.
- Family issues where one parent needs to stay home for taking care of kids.
- Health related issues which get aggravated by nature of the job.
- Workplace environment, politics and constant denial of promotion/increment, etc.
The problem is, even though we look for early exit, we seldom afford to do so. Due to lack of retirement saving. In personal finance term, a financial independence is a state where you no longer need to work for living. Your money would provide you necessary income.
To put things simply, you can only take early retirement if you reach financial independence (there are cases when one income suffices the family need, letting one partner to retire. We are not talking about that here). Below are few points that can help you streamline your thoughts. Read them, re read them and focus on each of them, try to memorize, if you want to.
Now, there are only three real ways to achieve financial independence early.
- Earning More Money
- Saving More Money
- Optimizing investment for higher return (read where to invest my money now)
Below tips may help you getting out of any financial mess you created (high credit card debt, losing money in stock market, etc.) thus far. Even if you didn’t create a mess, these can help you focus on your journey towards early retirement.
When did I start thinking about retirement? Even before I started working. As an immigrant, all you want is the best for your family, so I have to work hard. Nevertheless, knowing how much toil I have to put in to reach my goals, I realize I don’t want to spend a lot of time making sacrifices. You should do the same too. Don’t wait until you’re thirty or worse forty before you think or even plan for it. By the time you’re sixty, you still don’t have enough funds to cover all your needs.
The answer, if you want badly, start now, from today.
I’ll tell you this as early as possible. I can basically list down 100 tips and tricks on how to retire early; but if you don’t have the discipline, commitment, and determination, I don’t expect you to take the first step right now or follow the right course. You’ll always bring what could have been very good financial habits. It’s not going to be easy, especially if you’re not used to financial planning or saving. But unless you do your darn best to stay committed, you don’t reap any in the end.
Invest in financial literacy
I’m not going to lecture you about the different kinds of investments you can make, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. They can be quite complicated and deserve their own spot. What I’m going to let you know is the importance of financial education. The investment options I tell you are just tools in making you rich. They can still fail miserably if you don’t know how to make the right decisions when it comes to your investments. Fortunately, improving your financial education is no longer difficult. There are already hundreds of financial counselors and advisers all over the country, and they are all certified and professionals. You can visit my blog often to get some more tips about how to be wise with money, savings, and investments. You can also read books or attend financial seminars.
Start paying off your debt
By the time you’re twenty-five or thirty, you should control your debts as much as possible. In fact, you should already be paying your debt religiously by then like your mortgage and car loan. Debts can create huge dents in your commitment to save and invest for your retirement. ( related – 51 ways to get out of debt)
Keep yourself healthy
We can talk about money until kingdom come, but all the wealth in the world is futile if you’re on your deathbed by the time you’re fifty or sixty. As you grow older, your metabolism slows down and you become more prone to all sorts of diseases. It’s then recommended to also be serious with your health. Besides, before you retire, you still have to work harder. You can only do that when you’re in the pink of health. (related – Stay healthy to become rich)
Set aside money
How much should you save every month? If you can, spend just half of your income for your expenses, we do it constantly. Otherwise, consider at least 8 percent of your total income. That should be a good start for you. Now to make sure that you don’t ever forget it, you can automate the debit in your salary account and move the funds to your savings account. Better yet, open a time deposit, which earns higher interest than savings account.
Moreover, you don’t get tempted to touch your funds. You can also try this very simple technique: make your savings an expense. Whatever money is left, you can decide to use it for other stuff you wish to buy or as additional savings (I hope you go for the latter). (Related – How much do you need in retirement saving)
Change your lifestyle
If you’re used to finer things in life, it’s time to done them down a bit. Savings is one of your best steps in trying to prepare yourself for early retirement. Besides, there are already plenty of things you can use as substitutes. You can subscribe to Netflix instead of watching movies in cinemas, settle in more affordable accommodation than five-star hotels, or cook meals at home than order or eat out.
There are many types of investments, though they may be classified in three plans: short-term, medium term, and long-term. The last one is the most ideal one for you since you want to build your wealth, not use it very soon. Moreover, long-term investments are more stable and offer more money as long as you’re willing to be patient with their growth. (Related - How to prioritize saving goals)
Chronicle and have good company
Keep a diary of your journey. If possible open a blog and write your progress. When going gets tough (and sure they will be on days), you shall get courage from your past victories. Make a plan to save certain amount every year put down your goals in writing.
It is also important to have company of people taking the same journey. Form a local group or club for early retirement seekers. You can join online groups/forums as well. Constant encouragement, information sharing and learning from each other are the main benefits of having a company of like minded people.
Believe me, taking early retirement is possible, and honestly, it’s very hard to achieve unless you are a high income earner. Still, any one, even with lesser income, can achieve it with discipline, hard-work and self-control over time, and, only if you want it badly enough.
Before we end today’s discussion, let me remind you that in global economy our jobs are not stable and secure forever. We can lose our jobs any day – anytime. And, especially if you’re in your 50’s, you may not get a comparable job again. In that situation an early financial independence can become your savior.
What do you think readers, if you’re planning for early retirement, do you want to share your experience?