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?