Want to Retire Sooner Rather Than Later? Do These 3 Things

retire sooner“Sooner rather than later” is a concept that resonates with impatient people. Meaning, get your task done or reach your goal sometime in the near future instead of a long time from now.

Talking to people and even (especially) reading personal finance blogs, many want to accelerate the timeframe of when they will be able to retire. Retiring sooner rather than later is enticing, isn’t it? Sure, maybe we really love working and clearly need to work now. But wouldn’t be great to work because you wanted to, instead of because you had to?

To get to that point, there are a number of things we can do to put the odds more in our favor. One could probably come up with a long list, but let’s focus on 3 for now. Here they are, 3 things we can do to help us retire when we choose to do so:

1) Never forget that the day will come when we’re either physically incapable of working, or that employers will lose interest in us because we’re old.

Yes, this can happen. Rather, it will happen at some point. I’ve read comments by people on blogs where they say things such as (paraphrased)

  • “I’ll probably be working for the rest of my life”
  • “I’m in good health now, I’m sure I’ll be fine later”
  • “If you stay current, there is no reason you can’t work until 70+”
  • “My grandfather worked until he was 82, and was as sharp as a tack until he chose to retire”

That’s all great, but I’m trying hard not to fall into that trap. I realize that we can’t predict the future, but clearly in the game of life, father time has never been defeated – as a friend of mine likes to say. By keeping in mind that we need to plan and save for retirement, it puts the requisite pressure on us to make it a priority.

By doing so, we can take some control of the situation, rather than let the situation control us entirely. When we have some control, we can take positive steps to work toward retiring sooner rather than later in life.

2) Always Make Sure You Have Marketable Skills

This is really a bigger picture issue of making sure that you protect and grow income. Where I’m going with this is that without income, we simply won’t be able to save money. Using all the coupons in the world isn’t going to get us too far if there isn’t adequate cash inflow. Or worse yet, none at all.

I’ve seen people go through protracted periods of unemployment, and in some cases give up and do something different. These transitions can be hard on people. Instead of dealing with rough patches like that, it’s better to stay on top of things and make sure we know what skills the market wants. I’ve seen the flipside too, and noticed a few people of my parents’ generation be able to stay current and essentially reinvent themselves as middle-aged people and end up living quite well.

After all, if a person operates as an employee, then he or she is the product and the employer is the customer. If the customer’s needs change over time, then you have to be aware of it.

3) Aggressively save as much as possible, as early in life as possible

Take advantage of things when the going is good, that’s really what this comes down to. The more we can save when younger, the more thankful we’ll be when older.

It’s all about compounding. And, in some cases, avoiding temptations of spending on silly things when younger. Yes, I did spend on a few unnecessary things when younger – and don’t necessarily regret them to be honest. Traveling to some nice places out of the country, when I didn’t quite have the funds to do so, brought me some amazing life experiences that I still remember and cherish.

That being said, a few things is different than having an entire lifestyle that’s either living totally in the moment without worrying about the future, or living for today and paying for it tomorrow – which is even worse.

Avoid consumer debt, try to avoid car loans, and don’t get trapped into buying a “dream home”. We can all enjoy life to the fullest without some of these extras that are wants rather than needs. The payoff is that as we save money and let compounding work its magic, we’ll put ourselves in a situation to retire earlier rather than later.

My Questions for You

Do you think about trying to retire sooner rather than later?

What are your thoughts on these 3 things we discussed?

Do you have any other tips to add?

Comments

  1. says

    First of all, don’t rich people work? They do because working, producing something and feeling of being useful give a meaning to our lives. However, you would be happier if you were fortunate enough to work because you want to not because you need the money desperately.

    Most people worked in less than satisfactory jobs for people with only traces of intelligence at some point in their lives and know how soul crashing it is. In many cases these bad work experiences told us that it was time to learn new skills and find better jobs. Only few people start their working lives with a dream job. Rest of us have to work towards getting there. Some of us take chances and venture into running their own businesses. It is human nature to want to improve. You should always try and see how far you can go.

    I agree 100% that you need to be wise with your money if you want to accumulate wealth. And your partner needs to understand this as well. While you are reducing number of coffees you drink to save money if your partner goes and spend money on all sorts of expensive clothes and gadgets you have a big problem.

    I love that you brought up “dream home” thinking into question. A dream home can cost you twice as much as a home you need for your family. That would mean that you spend rest of your life trying to pay off the mortgage and can hardly save money for anything else. Homes don’t bring income but they can offer capital gains. You need to be smart about your wants and needs.

    While you are working on achieving your financial goals you need to aim to build a stable family life and stay away from silly behaviors like gambling or excessive drinking. You could lose everything with a messy divorce later in life and addictions can ruin you both financially and mentally. Don’t let it get to your head if you are lucky enough to achieve success and build wealth. Thank you for this great article and opening up the discussion.

    • Squirrelers says

      Thanks for the comment. There are so many aspects to this that one could probably write article after article and just scratch the surface of this topic. I like what you said as you noted “don’t let it get to your head if you are lucky enough to achieve success and build wealth”. Well put.

  2. says

    My wife and I save as much as we can now because once kids come, we aren’t sure how much we will still be able to save for retirement. It will still be a priority over funding their college education, but money will certainly be tighter. The more we save now, the more it can compound and grow over time. Plus, we can get away with lowering our savings amount should we need to and still be OK.

    • Squirrelers says

      Smart thinking, as having kids is a very different situation than not having kids in terms of actual expenses, as well as flexibility and time commitments. It’s the greatest thing of course, but it’s good that you’re eyes are open to the reality that the ballgame changes then.

  3. says

    I started late but I’m trying to save as much as possible without stop having fun. I’m also making some moves to hopefully be able to be financially independent before I reach 65. I’m going to try to get that number down to 55, 50, or even 45 but I have a long way to go.

    • Squirrelers says

      That’s great that you’ve set the goal and have gotten started. Agreed that there is a balance, we do want to keep enjoying ourselves.

  4. says

    Good points, especially the first one. I think younger people often look at older people and think that they can’t contribute or are done, but remember, those old people were once young too. And probably thought the same things. Point being, that if you don’t think it can happen to you, think again.

  5. says

    We’re working towards financial independence. While I don’t know if I ever want to completely stop working, I would like to have the option to if something were to come up.

  6. says

    I wish I had been looking more at retirement or financial independence earlier in life. We were too busy raising a family. It would be nice to have more choices now. The whole concept of saving 50% of what you earn was new to me until I started reading PF blogs!

    • Squirrelers says

      Well, the great thing is that we can learn new concepts later in life and still improve our lives. I totally know what you mean about that concept being more evident when reading PF blogs. Admittedly, that’s pretty tough to do for most families – but really, the more that can be saved, the better.

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