Long gone are the days of waiting until you’re 65 or older to retire. Baby boomers are throwing in the towel on their careers sooner than expected and taking advantage of early retirement while they’re still young. Sound too good too be true? It’s not if you follow some simple rules.
Live below your means, not above them
Let’s face it: many of us love champagne taste but only have a beer budget. How do we compensate for this? We put things that we really don’t need, like furniture, home entertainment centers and vacations, on credit. Stop! Get rid of your credit cards; they are nothing more than a temptation to spend money you don’t have in the first place. If you can’t pay cash for something, don’t buy it. Next, make a list of your expenses. Where can you cut back? Do you really need the premium cable package? Can you get by on eating out once a week instead of three times? Is that club membership really worth it? Couldn’t you get just as good a workout from running or playing tennis for free? Once you’ve established areas that you can scale back, take the money you were spending and save it.
Raises and bonuses
Save any and all raises and bonuses you receive. It seems like every time there’s an adjustment to our salary we spend the money; whether on gifts, a new car or a bigger home. As tempting as it is, don’t do it. Instead, invest the money wisely in a Roth IRA, mutual funds or the stock market. Not a savvy investor? CDs are a good option if you’re looking to increase your value without risk.
Most companies offer a 401k option. It’s important that you contribute the maximum amount that your company will match. Anything beyond that amount, in my opinion, should be invested in another vehicle. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband contributes the maximum amount his company will match in his 401k. I have a Roth IRA set up thru my financial planner with automatic monthly contributions. We took a chunk of our savings and invested that in the stock market. You would certainly need to establish the best investment option for your situation. I do recommend that you do a lot of research in this area to make sure you make the right decision. Afterall this is your retirement money we’re talking about.
Many retired baby boomers who retire go on to work a part-time job in an area they have interest in. The beauty of this position that you’re in is that you’ve already put in your years in your career and now you get to reap the benefits of that. Retiring early means that your money needs to last you perhaps 10 years longer than you originally expected. And with rising longevity you don’t want to be faced with running out of money during your last five years of life. Say you’ve always had an interest in reading. This is a great time to take a part-time job at a book store and enjoy the benefit of a discount on merchandise. Maybe you enjoy helping others learn; become a part-time instructor at a local college. That paycheck you’re getting means less money you have to use from your retirement account.
If you’re not prepared to change your lifestyle and scrimp as much as possible then early retirement might not be for you. For those of you who have already been saving, investing, and cutting back enjoy your retirement because it’s just around the corner.