Many American workers dream of retiring early. Have you mapped out a plan to do so yourself, or does it sound impossible? Some people pull it off, and they say that long term planning, ideally from a young age, makes all the difference.
Take Tanja Hester. The author of Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way told the New York Post that her desire to retire early stemmed from an impending genetic disorder. She and her husband started working on their retirement in 2012, and retired in 2017 at age 38. Hester actively worked for only five years toward the goal of retiring before she achieved it. Is that something you can do, as well? Don’t write it off the idea as a pipe dream. Learn to manage your money and plan ahead, and you may surprise yourself.
Save More than You Would OtherwiseI
Akaisha Kaderli, writing for U.S. News & World Report, said that early retirement is less about accumulating wealth and more about buying back your time. However, that time has a cost, and it’s going to mean saving more than you might already be doing — about 50% of your annual salary. The goal is to get to 25 times what you expect to live on annually.
That kind of saving is part of a growing philosophy called FIRE (Financial Independence Retirement Early). And key to having more money to save is cutting expenses. Start tracking every expense, no matter how small. You might find surprising places to cut back.
Those who have managed to save at least half of their annual income regularly say that the most significant expenses to address are housing, transportation and food, according to CNBC. Getting those under control — paying off mortgages, driving cars for longer periods of time and controlling food costs — will free up more dollars for you to save toward early retirement.
Build Passive Income Streams
Passive income — the kind that doesn’t require your active oversight to generate returns — offers many benefits when it comes to early retirement. Before you retire, passive income can help you save more. And after you retire, passive income can supplement the funds you are living off of.
From writing an e-book to affiliate marketing on a blog you already have, small amounts of income from various sources can slowly give you additional income. It can add up to reduce expenses, save more, and have extra disposable income when you retire.
Of course, one of the biggest sources of passive income, both before and during retirement, is real estate. Renting out investment properties or portions thereof is a popular “side gig.” Another option are real estate investment trusts (REITS), which function like mutual funds that own real estate. And in today’s crowdfunded world, there are real estate ventures that use crowdfunding as a means for savvy investors to invest in portions of those ventures.
Take Steps Now to Address Healthcare
As you might expect, the ever-rising costs of healthcare need to be considered when planning for any retirement, be it early or traditional. Fidelity Investments reports that on average, a couple will require $280,000 of today’s dollars to fund medical expenses when they are retired.
Healthcare costs present the greatest hurdle for potential early retirees to overcome. One of the first things to do is to make sure you thoroughly understand your healthcare plan so that you can maximize your use of it. The Motley Fool cited a study showing that nearly half of all Americans don’t understand their healthcare benefits. That means you could be leaving money on the table.
A health savings accounts (HSAs) has tax advantages, such as growing tax-free and having tax-free distributions when used for medical expenses. They are even portable; you can take them with you from employer to employer. However, many Americans who have access to HSAs don’t use them. If you’re one of them, look into their benefits and how they can help you prepare for and take advantage of early retirement.
Finally, remember that the pursuit of early retirement is a hot topic these days. Those who are working toward that goal are writing blogs and books about how to achieve it. If you are one of those who think early retirement is in the cards, you have plenty of resources at your disposal to learn and get support from.