I’ve been reading about early retirees in their 30’s and 40’s lately. They all had a couple of things in common: 1. They started saving early 2. They lived way below their means. 3. They invested smart af.
Whether you have an ordinary job making $50,000 a year, you inherited money from a family member or you got a nice divorce settlement- most people fuck up the money they do have. The more one makes, the more one spends.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Don’t acquire any debt. I mean zero, not even a car loan. It’s a fucking trap and our leveraged, credit obsessed society is swallowed in debt. You wanna work your ass off forever, paying off debt, fine. Not me.
- If you do have debt, like a mortgage, pay that fucker off asap.
- Don’t subscribe to the “keeping up with the Jones’s” lifestyle. Less stuff, be a minimalist. The fact that American’s have storage spaces, garages, attics and containers filled with shit they don’t use tells us a great deal.
- Play a game I call- “How little can I live on?” Make it fun. Compete with yourself, not the Jones family…
- Quit eating out all the time. Pick one day a week that you eat out and look forward to it as a reward, like a celebration. You will cherish it and save a shit ton. Also, figure out how much you actually need to eat to feel good. I now eat two meals a day- breakfast and a late 3:30 lunch.
- Open a word document and write down every single purchase. It’s not enough to look at your bank account. There is a very real impact of literally writing out every fucking dollar you spend. It will change your life.
- Get rid of your monthly subscriptions. Those little apps! $14 Spotify. your newspaper subscription, magazines, a meditation app for $55 a year… that shit adds up. You don’t need it.
- Which brings me to re-training your brain to unlearn the difference between a need and a necessity. Get rid of the bullshit that you think is a necessity. Who the fuck needs cable? I’ve been streaming online for a decade now. I don’t own a car, I use public transit and my legs. If I need to take a trip, I rent a car.
- Get off all prescriptions that accomplish what an OTC medicine can do. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, so make sure you educate yourself. I was spending $45 a month on Singular for my asthma. I learned that if I combine Flonase nasal spray with my Benedryl, it not only eliminates the post nasal drip, but it protects me from having allergy induced asthma. Be willing to move to a location that is better for your health. Be willing to change health habits and diet in order to get off meds that you only need because you choose a shit lifestyle. Hell, I don’t have to go through a box of $15 GasX every week if I don’t eat gluten ffs…
- Hair. This is an expensive luxury. Cut it yourself, get clippers, go bald, use box color. Granted, I was an aesthetician and make-up artist for 13 years and worked for companies like Aveda- so I know more than your average person. However, do not underestimate the expense of beauty. Learn to cut corners, because not all the products you buy are cracked up to be what the marketing gurus tell you. This applies to skin care, makeup, bath and body products too. Research beauty hacks and try them out. You’ll save a shit ton and be content. I promise. If you cut your Walgreens or CVS bill in half, you will have more discretionary income.
- Shop online, not at the stores. There are plenty of vendors that offer free shipping, rewards and coupon codes. Psychologically, when you are in a store holding an item in your hand, it is far more tempting than making a decision online about a sweater that you probably don’t need. Shopping in a store is also immediate gratification as opposed to delayed gratification. I have a rule- if there is something I want, I don’t buy it. I go home and sleep on it. If I’m meant to have it, I won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
- Health insurance. This is probably the most excruciating expense of all, other than food ( I don’t include the roof over your head, because that’s obvious). If you are fortunate enough to be healthy, then you likely spend less on healthcare. However, in the US, our medical professionals over react, over treat, over charge and over prescribe for everything. Long story why I feel confident in making that declaratory statement. I’m not gonna back it up right now, but suffice it to say- if you live in any other country outside the US for a few years, you will understand. American’s go running to the doctor for everything. Doctors treat you with a pill for everything. Hospitals admit you and are ready to cut you open for everything. I know this will sound horrid to many of you, but I promise that in America, the medical industry is a fear mongering, reactionary, over zealous monster. If you are like me, over the age of forty and female, you will need to get an annual gyno-exam. Choose a health plan that makes sense to you. SAVE money for co-pays and visits. Reduce your monthly premium by partially funding your own healthcare IF YOU ARE HEALTHY. I am not talking to people with ailments, diseases and conditions.
- Consider getting travel insurance for healthcare and other types of coverage. I’m gonna leave it at that. Do your own research. I have found some helpful and interesting solutions by educating myself about travel insurance options.
- Don’t fund your kids lives. Let them learn to support themselves. No bank is giving out loans for retirement. Just remember that!
- Invest long term. Be conservative, but be willing to absorb a bit of risk. Don’t spend what you don’t have. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t blow it!
All that I have said here is based on my needs, my lifestyle and what works for me. This is in no way a one-size-fits-all strategy. If what you read doesn’t sound right for you, don’t do it! At the end of the day, the best way to retire early is to get involved in your money. Begin by being an expert on you and spend time on it. I have invested hours and hours on my own investments and ways to curb my spending. You have to take responsibility for your retirement because you cannot trust anyone else to do it for you. No one will take your money more seriously than you.
Lastly: Get married and have kids young so that you can be divorced, retired and happy in your 40’s! Most people are in relationships right now because of money (or lack thereof). Women in particular get into this scenario and it needs to stop. Ladies, get involved in your finances and learn to manage your money. You can do it!
(some of this is tongue and cheek, don’t take me or yourself so seriously- enjoy!)