Wish you could retire right now? For some of us, this may seem like a fantasy that will never be reached. But, most Americans can retire early if they take the right steps. Here are some retirement strategies that you can implement to help you retire early, complete with peace of mind, a plane ticket in hand, and money in your pocket. Let's make that fantasy a reality.
Ramp Up Your Saving Rate: Sometimes retirement can last up to 40 years. Make sure you have a sizeable savings stash to support yourself. Your savings rate should depend on how much you've managed to save already, how many years left until you retire, and how much income you will need to generate. A good rule of thumb is 15% a year. According to CNN, to have a realistic chance of throwing off the shackles of the 9-to-5 routine in your mid-50s, you may have to have to stow away upwards of 25% to 30% a year. If you want a good estimate of how much you should be saving and how much effort you should be putting in, use this retirement income calculator to get a better picture.
Cut Back on Your Expenses: How often do you dine out? Buy a coffee on the way to work? Get a pedicure or buy new clothes? Expenses like these tend to add up. Make an analysis of these expenditures and see how much you are spending each month on these items. Try to take that number and save half of it each month by limiting your spending. Slowly try to increase the amount you save. In the end, would you rather drink that Starbucks Americano or retire early and drink that on a beach somewhere? Brew your coffee at home and buy a fancy mug to port it around; you'll find the taste of savings even sweeter.
Take Advantage of a Retirement Plan: Does your employer offer a 401(k) plan? If the answer is yes, contribute as much as you can. In some cases, employers will match what you put in, or around 50% of it. In 2017, approximately 42% of companies will match dollar-for-dollar, compared to 31% in 2013. In addition, the money you set aside for your 401(k) plan is taken out of your paycheck before income taxes are calculated. This means you are lowering the amount of income you get taxed on, which could move you to a more favorable tax bracket, saving you more money for retirement.
Meet Regularly with a Financial Advisor: Retirement planning is one area where a financial advisor shines. To make the most of their advice, be sure to meet regularly to consult about your retirement needs and wants. Would you plan a vacation the day before you are supposed to leave? Probably not. The same is true with retirement planning; don't wait until the last minute. According to CNBC, when you meet with your financial advisor you should request a report that shows three things:
- How much money you have saved in retirement and non-retirement accounts currently
- How long that money would last you in retirement, factoring in Social Security, taxes and other sources of income, such as pension, annuities, rental property, etc.
- If there is a surplus or shortfall based on your current savings rate and return projections
Factor in Housing: Most of us have heard the term, "Less is more." This can also be true when it comes to purchasing a home. If you want to retire early, don't buy a house that will keep you in the "poor house." If you purchase a larger home, there will be more expense in the upkeep, the general maintenance and furnishing of that home. In addition, your monthly mortgage payment and taxes will be much higher each month. In the long run, your home is going to have a huge impact on your expenses and the amount you can put away for retirement. Choose carefully. With interest rates as low as they are currently, it's a great time to purchase a home and not rent, but make sure it's a sound investment and not one that forfeits your future. You want to own your home, not the other way around.
By following these steps, you can retire when you want and live the life of your dreams. Retirement is something we all look forward to. It's the second life we get to live, and it's up to you to decide what to make of it.