You need to have a Strategic Retire Early Plan if you want to give yourself the option of early retirement. There are two crucial basics for everyone’s early retirement strategy needed to successfully reach the early retirement dream:
- Spending Discipline through frugal living, living a simpler life and cutting out waste that doesn’t really add any happiness-value to your life.
- Saving and Investing as much as you can and doing it as smart as you can so you can take advantage of compounding interest and dividends, company matches, and any tax advantages while building your retirement nest-egg.
Every Strategic Retire Early Plan is unique to the person.
There is no “one size fits all” early retirement strategy or solution for everyone to retire early. However, all Strategic Retire Early Plans do focus on the following goal:
To spend less and save more in a sustainable way within your own personal frugal living threshold. It has to be a lifestyle you can personally embrace and it must be sustainable over the time you take to reach your early retirement goals and during retirement.
Do keep this in mind. Making some spending cuts will add up to significant savings over the long-term. But if you really want to retire early you will have to make cuts that challenge your frugality threshold. It will take more than having an early retirement strategy with just average savings rates to reach the prize.
Strategic Retire Early Plan Basics:
Know where your money goes.
List several months if you can where all your money is being spent. Get to as low a level as you can. Look for anything that you can cut. Concentrate on what really brings you the greatest happiness and cutting the rest to feed your plan.
Create a Smart Frugal Living Budget and stick to it.
Create a budget that you can live with over the long haul.
Debt must all go.
List all creditors, balanced owed, the interest rate, and their monthly payment. Create a repayment plan. Any extra income over your budget and 401k contributions is to be dedicated to debt payoff.
Once all debt is paid off then this income can now be added to your savings rate. Only use credit cards for costs that you would have to buy anyway and always for only what you can pay off each month, never leaving a balance owed.
401K plan at work.
If you have a 401k plan then be sure you are at least contributing up to the amount of any company match. Once debt is paid off your plan will include increasing this savings amount. Invest in low-cost funds and do include stocks and bonds in a balanced investment approach. If you have no 401k company match then begin contributing at least 5% until debt is repaid and up to 10% if you can.
If you have no 401k benefit then set aside the same for an IRA and/or a Roth IRA. Once debt is cleared you will ramp up your savings rate with a goal of 30% to 50% of income. Even higher if possible in the future utilizing 401k, IRA/Roth IRA to maximum contribution levels and non-retirement accounts.
Set aside a percentage of your income in an emergency savings account.
You are shooting for 3 to 6 months of your monthly budget costs to have saved. Credit card debt repayment should be a higher priority. So set a realistic percentage that doesn’t hamper your credit card debt repayment plan.
Your unique early retirement strategy is to look at your current lifestyle and take full advantage of your financial strengths and manage any of your weaknesses. Since everyone comes from different backgrounds, education, experiences, characteristics, and skills, they also have different incomes, savings habits, spending habits, work benefits, and debt.
Your Early Retirement Strategy Focus
No two plans will be the same but there should be one perfect solution for you.
- A Strategic Retire Early Plan that you will embrace and still live your life to the fullest.
- Your early retirement strategy should be one without spending-waste that makes no difference to your happiness.
Your strategic focus is to control any of your lifestyle weaknesses so you can cut costs and maximize savings. Additionally your strategic focus is to keep it as simple as possible.
Modest Income/Average Savings Rate.
You have a modest income and invest 10% in your 401K with no debt other than your first mortgage. But at this income and savings rate you won’t be able to retire for another 30 or 40 years.
Your early retirement strategy is to concentrate on finding lifestyle cost waste and cutting it from your budget. Then increase savings rate along with looking for ways to boost income.
Use your skills as a basis to do something you are passionate about doing on the side for added income. Accumulate new income producing skills that may allow for promotions in your current field or a new one with better income prospects.
High Income/High Debt.
You have a high income and even like your job for the most part. But you spend as much as you make and carry credit card debt.
Your early retirement strategy is to concentrate on managing your spending and paying off your debt while escalating your saving and investment rate. For some, managing a spending weaknesses is harder than saving.
Having to give up buying a new car every 3 or 4 years and stop taking quarterly trips to Las Vegas to blow off steam is a tough habit to break. Especially for someone making good money. I know people who have this issue and they are trapped in a career just for the money and enslaved by their lifestyle costs. Cool it on the spending and put your good income to work for you and your early retirement goals.
Lower Income and Think can’t Possibly Save.
You have a lower-income and fall into the mindset trap that you don’t make enough to save anything. You are living on a bare-bones budget already.
Your early retirement strategy is to think small and do something. Look to see if there is anything else that could be considered waste in your budget. If your job has a 401K plan and especially with any kind of match amount, start contributing now. If not then open a savings account and save something, even if it’s only $50 dollars a month. That is only $11.50 a week over the 52 week year. That isn’t enough to get you to early retirement but you start the saving habit now which is a financial strength to have.
Take every opportunity to increase your income. Start a side business or a side hustle by looking at your skills and passions. Look at where your skills and passions intersect to find a way to earn income. Gain new payable skills to improve your income potential.
Save your tax refunds, etc. and increase your savings rate. Once your savings balance grows to the minimum acceptance balance needed to open a retirement account you can open an IRA or ROTH IRA. Then invest your new retirement savings in a stock index fund. Start small and envision your long-term goals.
Once you start on the path to escalated savings you will need make investment decisions for what, where, and how you save your money for retirement. Although having some cash in your savings account isn’t a bad idea, it is not going to grow enough to help you retire early.
Your Strategic Retire Early Plan – Saving and Investing
Just as your Spending Plan is unique to you, so is your Saving and Investing Plan. Everyone has different risk levels, investment knowledge, or the time, desire, or aptitude to gain it.
Once again, even with your saving and investing plan, your early retirement strategy is to take full advantage of your strengths and manage any of your weaknesses while keeping it simple and sustainable.
You should always take advantage of your company’s 401K benefit especially if there is a company match associated to the first “X” percentage you put in every pay-day. Then once you have done that use the tax advantages of IRAs and/or ROTH IRAs.
If you are going to retire early you will also need non-retirement type investments and savings due to the age 55 or 59 ½ retirement account rules to get to your savings without penalty.
I have more details associated to the two crucial basics to everyone’s Strategic Retire Early Plan, Spending Discipline and Saving and Investing. I also have My Strategic Early Retirement Plan giving my spending (budget) and investing details. Check out those pages and start your own Strategic Retire Early Plan now.
My journey to early retirement didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t save anything more than the recommended minimum for many years. There was a period of low income and debt. I was 40 years old when I got serious about wanting to retire early. But all the little things I did before that moment created a good base for my early retirement strategy. I retired early at the age of 51.
Create and begin your early retirement strategy now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.