One of the first things that occur to a new empty nester is retirement because that is what we are supposed to do. Work our entire lives, get the big house, raise the kids, they move out and then soon after you retire. That is a good dream.
What if you had your children at a young age and you are in your early forties? The reality of your retirement is still twenty years into the future and looks so very far away.
What if you don’t want to buy into that dream? What if you want more than a dream?
Now your thoughts turn to those of early retirement, that sounds good, doesn’t it? Instead of working another twenty years, you work five or ten and then retire.
You pull all your numbers together, 401k’s and IRA’s, savings accounts and the value of your house. How much are you worth at this point? Is it enough? Unless you saved all your extra money and made some wise investments, your answer is probably, no.
So is it in you to give up? Heave a big sigh and head back your regular job? Dreams are for kids right? You’re an adult you don’t have time for dreams.
Define Your Reality
You are correct; dreams are for kids, you are an adult after all. Please go back to work and forget about all this silly early retirement.
Are all the quitters gone?
Good, we can get down to the business of reaching early retirement.
Dreams are for kids; dreams are also for adults who know how to make a plan, set a goal, work their asses off and turn a dream into reality.
Because without a dream, you have no idea of the plan and resources required to make your early retirement a reality. If you don’t know where you are going, there is no way for you to get there.
The quote “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” sounds good. The reality is without a destination, you will be wandering around lost, have no idea how to retire early and have no money when you arrive if you even arrive.
Dreams are for children. Adults make their dreams a reality. It is time to stop dreaming, start planning and define your existence.
Retiring early is probably going to be tough. One of the first things you have to do is decide that early retirement is what you really want. Why? Because if you don’t really want it, it isn’t going to happen. You are going to have to commit to some life changes.
Saving money isn’t going to be easy. We get used to a particular lifestyle, and we don’t like to change.
Planning is essential
That plan I mentioned? The one that separates kid dreams from adult dreams? This is where the plan has to be made and adhered to.
Heather and I started this journey ten months ago. We looked at our finances for the first time in years and realized how much money we were wasting on things we did not need. The money we could have been putting into retirement was just lost on: eating out, unnecessary purchases, overpaying on the car and home insurance. The list of things we wasted money on goes on, and on, it wasn’t pretty.
Make a plan, set your goals, and stick to it.
Get debt free
We made a plan in January of 2018, to be debt free, excluding our mortgage, by November of 2018. How much was our pay off amount? Around $50,000. Did we meet our goal? No. We surpassed it. We paid all of our debts off, excluding mortgage, in six months. Read this article by Heather, if you want to know more about how we did that.
Paying interest on car loans, home improvement loans, and credit cards is a waste of your money. I’ve heard others say to invest your money and not pay off credit cards yet, but the interest on those loans is usually higher than the interest on any investment you will make.
Our advice to you, pay off all your debt.
This step is not only helpful to you by paying off debt, but it teaches you what you are capable of living without. The more money you can put into retirement after paying off debt brings that early retirement closer to your reach.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
One area of retirement savings most people have missed out on is an HSA.
You can only have an HSA if you have a high deductible insurance plan. Whether that is from your employer or a plan you purchase for yourself. Most people these days have a high deductible insurance plan.
Why is having an HSA a good idea? Any money you put into HSA account is tax-free. This money can also be invested so that it grows at a much higher rate than if you left it in a savings account. You can either use it to pay any IRS eligible medical expenses or leave it in the HSA account until retirement age.
The investment part of the HSA has the real growth potential here.
With a 2019 cap of $3,500 for an individual plan, or $7,000 for a family plan, this investment for your future medical expenses is too good to pass up.
(Especially considering that any money made from investments is also tax free.)
Another way to move up your retirement date is to find ways to earn extra income. Adding extra income into your retirement fund or investment accounts is an excellent way to use compound interest to your benefit.
You may be saying: “I work a full-time job, I have a family, when am I going to have extra time?”
How much TV do you watch a day? Can you get up an hour earlier in the morning? Do you have time on your lunch break from work? What do you do on your days off? These are just a few suggestions to finding extra time.
Craigslist and eBay
Check Craigslist in your area; they have listings for almost every place in the country; you can narrow the search area down or include the entire state you live. You can see if anyone is giving stuff away for free or find things to buy and resell. Load up your family and go check it out.
You can always go to yard sales with your family, find deals and resell them. The saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is true. Use this to your advantage.
Setting up a selling account on eBay is a simple process. Even if you only list and sell a few items a month, this can add some extra money into your pocket.
Teach by Doing
Does this sound like an odd thing to do with the family? We don’t think so. If your kids are younger, it can seem like a fun adventure for them. If your children are older, you can use this to teach them how to make extra money at an earlier age.
Let them pick an item to sell, pay any applicable fees and keep the money. This can be an excellent way to teach them the value of hard work; plus learning how online sales can work for them.
The world is changing at a rapid pace; online sales are just going to increase at an exponential rate, the sooner you and your children can learn this new marketplace, the better for all of you.
A More Hands-on Approach
Maybe you are not ready for dipping your toes into the online world? There are plenty of others things you can do to make money around your town. Fall is fast approaching. You could rake leaves or pine needles. Trim trees or clean gutters.
Winter is not too far behind either. Shovel snow for people. Start a service offering to put up Christmas lights on people’s houses. Walk their dogs if they don’t want to do it in the cold winter months. The list is as long as your imagination and willingness to work.
Use Your Current Skill Set
Do you know how to do graphic design? Or maybe creating spreadsheets is a passion of yours. What do you do as an everyday job? Can any of those skills be used to generate more money for you?
Often business’ in your area are seeking a new design, or someone to create a spreadsheet for their finances. They do not want to hire a full-time person to do this. They are usually willing to pay you a higher fee for this kind of specific item than your current employer does as an hourly rate. Leverage your skills and knowledge to your advantage.
This is just a starting point
There are hundreds of other opportunities available to you. Whether these are online opportunities or they are small jobs you find around town. Do something to raise extra money for your retirement!
(We really can’t stress this enough here, get involved in those as soon as you can, in five years you will be kicking yourself for not doing it now.)
A hundred extra dollars a week will add up to $5,200 a year. Putting this “extra money” into a Roth IRA, or an investment account now will give you an extra edge in your quest for early retirement.
Your Time is Yours
Are you content to work until 65 and retire? If so, good for you. Life, after all, is about doing things for you and your family that make you all happy. If you are not content to wait until 65 to retire, go out and find things to do to change that date. It isn’t too late; the power to change your life is yours.
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What have you done to lessen your retirement date? Any ideas you would like to share with others? Send us an email or comment below.