7 Secrets of Success From Early Retirees
There are two schools of thought when it comes to retirement. Either it’s the best time of your life, the reward for toiling in an office, factory, or wherever it is you toiled for the last 30 years, or it’s a slow and painful kiss of death. There’s a reason why boredom is called the silent assassin of retirement.
Where did all this time come from, and what are you going to do to fill it? For many, it’s an existential dilemma, at least for the first few years.
Then, suddenly, you discover or rediscover life and the meaning of leisure time.
You take up birding, perhaps. You build elaborate dollhouses in the basement in a workshop you’ve always wanted but never had time to set up.
You buy and old RV, fix it up, and Yin and Yang across the U.S., or you travel the great cities of Europe, visiting museums and monuments and eating at Michelin Star restaurants.
Boredom, really? The silent assassin of retirement –please.
Some of us don’t want to wait until we’re in our 60s to retire, so we devise a game plan to retire early. Yes, despite popular opinion, it’s possible.
We’re not saying you need to become some type of back-to-the-land homesteader who grows all their own vegetables and makes all their own clothing.
What we’re saying is that excess –or what we like to refer to as “stuff” –is a sinkhole on your highway to financial independence and early retirement.
By making the right decisions and weighing what’s really important in life, it’s possible to live a low-cost lifestyle. However, if you want to be a back-to-the-land homesteader, move to Vermont.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Sure, it sounds cliché. But wait a second. When your neighbors –lets call them Paul and Doreen –buy an SUV that’s as big as an aircraft carrier, you’re driving an 8-year old Subaru. But it’s an 8-year old Subaru that drives like a two-year old Subaru.
Paul and Doreen are going to brag and gloat. They’re going to invite you over to look at their new aircraft carrier, and no doubt they’ll make a disparaging remark about your old Subaru.
This is when you keep your eye on the prize. When you retire 15 years before Paul or Doreen and they’re still paying off that aircraft carrier, you’ll be happy you didn’t give into peer pressure and buy something you didn’t need.
Turn off the TV and Ride a Bike
We need to qualify this. We don’t mean to turn of the TV, and then go ride a bike –although exercise is a better idea than watching reruns of Law and Order. How does the theme song go: Bum-Bum. Chung-Chung? How about Ka-ching?
We’re talking about these ideas separately. Why?
Number crunchers say you can save roughly $15,000 a year by trading in your car for a bike. Of course, not everyone has this luxury. Still, if you’re two-car family –and most are –you can at least save $7,500 by getting rid of one car.
According to Fox Business, the average cost for cable in 2015 is expected to be $123 per month. If you cut the cable, you’ll save $7,976 over five years and $39,076 over 20 years. That’s some serious money.
Besides, with Netflix and other online steaming services available, cable no longer has a iron-fist monopoly on how you view your favorite shows. Bum-Bum.
Saving is easier said than done. Everyone wants to do it, but life gets in the way. Savings statistics are grim, not to mention unreliable.
In 2011, the average savings account balance in the U.S was $5,923. The typical American saves somewhere between $392 and $892 a year. But the exact number doesn’t really matter; what matters is that the number is low.
It’s said you should save 10 to 15 percent of your gross income a year, but there’s no precise figure. Many people who retire early start saving at their first job, and they save a little from every paycheck.
We'll put it another way: if you take control of your spending, you’ll have more to add to savings.
Do you remember the "Go to Jail" card in the game Monopoly? It said something like, “Go to jail. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”
Okay, so you’re not going to jail for withdrawing from a retirement or investment account, but you are going to be charged fees for early withdrawal or failing to make a withdrawal correctly.
In other words, in Monopoly terms, you’re not going to collect the $200 that’s yours. You’re paying it in penalties.
Follow Through on Commitments
Every year, when New Years Eve rolls around, billions of people around the globe make resolutions to better their lives.
They’re going to eat healthier and go to the gym. They’re going to quit smoking. They’re going to take Yoga and donate to charity and eat more Kale.
And then, two or three months into the year, these resolutions are cast aside and forgotten. They’re dust in the wind, as the saying goes.
If you’re serious -really serious -about retiring early, then you need to follow through on commitments no matter how difficult they are. You need to be able to modify your lifestyle, but you also need the commitment and discipline to follow through on those modifications.
You need to be Rocky Balboa running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum.
This is the most difficult part. Why?
Because the aircraft carrier that your neighbors, Paul and Doreen, have parked in their driveway is a temptation.
It's like the forbidden fruit, and most of us can’t help but take a bite.
It’s so much easier to go out and buy something now than it is to wait for something that exists in the future.
Resist the urge to take a bite.