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Making Early Retirement a Possibility

FreeOn Monday, we talked about how to never retire early. Now that you know what not to do, I’d like to talk about what can get you out of the daily grind.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I used to work crazy hours and drove all over to help the eyeballs of Southwest Colorado. While that might have been good for the eyeballs, it made me want to poke bamboo skewers into mine. I was becoming my worst fear, a burnout.

Luckily we made some major changes to our financial lives and careers, and I don’t have to work full time anymore. However, this past week I did have to work five of seven days, and I was beginning to sharpen the skewers. It made me realize that we HAVE to become financially independent so I never have to go back to working full time again.

If you are in the same boat and want to “retire” early, here are some ways to accomplish that.

Make More Money


Delegate– For years, I made the mistake of trying to do everything by myself. I thought it would save money if I worked harder rather than paying someone else. I could not have been more wrong. By hiring a full time doctor in our practice, I was able to work less there and branch out to other opportunities, like my contract job with the Indian Health Service. I now work less, but make more money. If the thought of working one more hour makes you want to beat your head against cement, it might be time to look into hiring someone else to do some of the necessary things that don’t bring you joy, especially if you can make more money elsewhere.

Create Multiple Streams of Income– I am a firm believer that anyone can make at least $500 a month in extra income. Making extra money empowers you to get creative and discover sources of income you might not have pursued otherwise. I didn’t really start a blog for money, but it has become a source of decent side income and has led to some other writing opportunities that I would have never considered before. Plus, if all of your money comes from one source and it goes away, what would you do? Find something you enjoy or have unique skills to do and make it profitable. One thing I learned from Jesse Mecham’s talk at Fincon was that it doesn’t have to be perfect at first, just get started.

Be Ready to Jump at the Right Opportunities– You never want to go into a venture or investment blindly, but if you have a strategy and an opportunity comes along to further your plan, you have to jump. This is very true for investing in the stock market or in real estate. When the price is right, have your money lined up and know what you want to buy with it. If you have to take a week to decide, the opportunity might be lost. How many people have you know who have said things like “If only I would have……” Don’t be that person.


Spend Your Money Wisely


Pay Off Debt– It’s very hard to retire ealy with consumer debt. Get rid of it and don’t add any more. You can use your extra money to do this.

Make Smart Investments-If you don’t know much about investing, stick to broad index funds. Don’t throw money away on high fees, and don’t let fear keep you away from investments. Hiding money under your mattress might mean that the value doesn’t change on a daily basis, but you are going to have to save a ton more if you don’t let compound interest do some of the work for you.

Be Careful With Big Purchases- Choosing where to live, what kind of house to buy, what car to drive, and where to go to school are huge purchases that can affect your financial future. If you have to borrow money for those big purchases, make sure you are getting the best deal and are thinking long term.

I love driving new cars, but If I always have a new car that is never paid off, I am essentiall wasting about $400 a month in car payments. Over ten years, that’s $48,000, not counting any interest I could have earned.

Likewise with education, if you spend $100,000 to get a teaching degree for a $30,000/year job, is that really the best decision?

 Stop Worrying So Much About Small Purchases– Before you crucify me, know that I love to save money. My newest fun ap is something called Ibotta that gives me money back for groceries. So far, I’ve saved $12.75 over the last month! We cut our satellite TV because we didn’t value it anymore. Saving $66 a month is a nice bonus. Saving is wonderful, and I hope you try cut costs where you can, but if you spend so much time trying to save a few dollars while putting off starting a retirement fund until you learn more about investing, that’s a terrible use of resources.

Now if you are paying off credit card debt, I do think you need to save every penny you can. That’s a whole different carnival ride. Aside from that, it isn’t going to wreck your retirement to get a coffee or take a friend out to lunch. Enjoy life while keeping your eyes on the big picture.

Life is full of choices. We can choose to follow the status quo and work until we hit Medicare age (if that’s an option down the road). There is nothing wrong with a long career, and some people enjoy their jobs.

However, if it’s all you can do to drudge yourself through the week until Friday, start planning your early retirement. That doesn’t mean you have to take up knitting and watching reality TV all day. You can do whatever you want, but on your own terms. I’m going to put my skewers away and get there as soon as I can.

What do you think is the most important step for accomplishing early retirement?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles






About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Kim,
    You can tell we are in a bull market when everyone is talking about early retirement, that talk will all go away when the next bear market hits. My stance is the same as yours as people worry about little purchases that save them a few dollars but never take the time to learn about things that will make them thousands. Driving a few miles to save pennies on gas instead of buying undervalued oil stocks, purchasing from Amazon for the free shipping instead of purchasing their stock when it was under 150 bucks are examples.

    • Couldn’t agree more. I have probably wasted lots of time on stupid things, when we should have been planning on purchasing rental properties. I hope my plan stays in tact regardless of the stock market, as our stock funds hopefully won’t need to be used for many years.

  2. Even though I stress keeping track of spending and looking for ways to cut expenses, I totally agree with you about not worrying too much about the small stuff. Worry about it a little bit at first, cut out the “fluff”, then move on to trying to increase income. Great post!

  3. “Make more money” is by far my preferred way to pursue early retirement. I love your tip on delegation. I also have had trouble in the past (and currently!) of not being able to delegate and trying to do everything myself. I think having a couple writers on my site has helped me realize how valuable delegation is.

  4. Good post Kim! I think it’s a combination of earning more and keeping those expenses and debt low. I think the multiple streams of income one is huge, especially if you diversify it. That will allow you to weather any changes that might happen, not to mention that you’ll generally be able to find more opportunities as you’ll have diversity.

  5. Great post! I think the most important thing is to do all of the things you’ve mentioned religiously for a few decades. Then it can happen!

  6. I love the dual advice to be careful with big purchases and not worry so much about the small ones. You can have such a positive impact on long-term wealth by making a smart housing or car purchase that daily decisions about whether or not to buy coffee can’t even approach. And while those are bigger one-time investments in effort, they continue to pay off for years without any additional work. Great stuff.

    • I see lots of people arguing over $5 for an eye exam copay, but driving off in a huge new SUV. I agree it’s important to save while you can and not take on unnecessary expenses, but $5 isn’t doing much when you have a $600/month car payment.

  7. Great advice…it definitely is a combination of earning more money and spending less of the money you earn. I think earning more money is generally more difficult of the two equation, but that is what I’m trying to focus on right now. I’m pretty good on the savings side…though I’m sure I can optimize that as well. I agree that you don’t need to sweat the small purchases sometimes, but for some people who are in a lot of consumer debt, I think it’s a good way to get into a mindset of saving rather than spending on frivolous things.

    • I agree. When you find yourself with a huge amount of debt, those $2 purchases add up. It was very hard for me to lighten up after we paid off all our credit card debt, but I am trying to enjoy a few more things without going overboard. It’s always a balancing act.

  8. Saving and investing as early as possible is the key to early retirement. The next important step is generating income whether from a successful career or other sources. Thanks for the links, I am in good company.

  9. Great article and insight! I’m a pharmacist working for a pharma company and am looking to start a business soon. It’s tough to keep up the grind! I’ll continue to follow you and learn more. Thanks!

  10. I think creating multiple income streams is the biggest factor in reaching early retirement. Even better if you can create passive income! It’s something I’m working on right now and trying to stick with through the beginning stages. I know it takes time to get going, and the thought of being able to retire/be financially independent that much sooner is motivating me to ignore the growing pains and stick with trying to get a freelance writing career off the ground.

    • I’ve said it before, Freelancing is Brutal! However, I know that lots of people do it. If you can get over the rejections and frustrations, I think you can make great money after you find a few steady clients.

  11. I think the most important step is planning. Make a plan (it’s going go take years!) and track your progress regularly to make sure you’re sticking to it!

  12. Great post! I think it’s a combination of making more money and saving more money, both of which I’ve been trying to get better at slowly. I like what you said though not to worry about every single nickel and dime (unless you are in serious debt) because life is too short to miss out on small pleasures.

  13. Great post! We definitely are aiming for early retirement. However, we both could have stuck it out at our jobs for a few more years, along with building up our side businesses, and probably could have reached early retirement within a couple of years. That just wouldn’t have made us happy though for each of us to be working 70 to 90 hours each week. Now we are just aiming for early retirement within the next decade. Still a good goal! 🙂

  14. Great combination of tips needed on the road to early retirement. I need to work on not worrying about the small purchases. I know it’s trivial, and that $2 or $4 isn’t going to kill me in the long-run, but sometimes I can’t help it. I watched my mom scrimp and save all my life and inherited some habits. Earning more and thinking hard before making huge financial commitments are so important. I definitely want to be able to work less and make more one day.

    • I used to beat myself up about my fountain soda diet pepsi that I enjoy so much. Yes, I could save that $1/day and have $360 extra dollars a year, but if I can make up for that in other ways, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Now if I was eating lunch from the convenience store and spending $10 a day, that’s significant. I think we all have to determine what is and isn’t something that we value and want to spend money on, even if if seems silly to someone else.

  15. Always interests me to read the early retirement pieces. I currently have no interest in “retiring early” but instead want to feel free to pursue the career that makes me happy.

    I’m with you on the multiple streams of income, but I’m curious where your $500 figure comes from?

    • I’ve kind of posted a few times about how I feel anyone can make an extra $500 a month, whether from online, doing an extra job, mowing yards, etc. I read an article once that said how much better and more secure people feel if they have at least $500 in the bank as savings or emergency, and I guess that number stuck in my mind. $500 a month was a goal of mine for my blog, and I have hit it consistently for many months now. Maybe a future post on ways to make your own extra $500 a month?

  16. “Create Multiple Streams of Income” – that is something I am currently focusing on. I am helping my folks rent out a vacation house on VRBO.com (Vacation Rental by Owner) and they are giving me a percentage of the income. If I wasn’t actively seeking out ways to create income the thought of using VRBO to help them (and me) never would have happened.

    • That is wonderful. I am certainly interested in hearing more about VRBO. We used that service to rent a house this summer, and I’m very intrigued.

  17. I am all about creating more money by diversifying my revenue streams. That is so important, but one many people shy away from because they are not sure how to do it. Great post Kim!

  18. Great article! I also want to one day not be limited by a 9 to 5, 5 days a week. It takes courage to break away. Congrats on being fearless!

  19. I think planning is a very important part because you have to have a clear direction as to where your going and how your going to get there. I really like the idea of having multiple streams of income.

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