On 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?