As my first “official” post on FB, I thought of sharing one of my financial goals obsessions. As a father of three at the age of 30, I realized early in life that there are a lot more important things in life than my job. This is why I’m thinking about retiring early.
The big paradox here is that I just LOVE my day job. I’m a financial planner and I really enjoy helping people with their money. I have a true passion for meeting different people and exchanging ideas with them. But still, I enjoy my life outside my work even more. I just think that life has a lot more to offer than a9 to 5job (even though a job is pretty useful to pay the bills!). But how realistic is early retirement in the current economy? I guess it depends on how young you want to retire ;-).
Early Retirement Extreme
I don’t know if you have heard of Jacob Lund Fisker from Early Retirement Extreme? He retired at 33 and living on a $7,000/year budget. Since I spend almost that amount per month, I can’t imagine myself living this tight budget. That’s definitely not my definition of living my life or retirement. It’s obvious that I could cut some expenses from my budget but I would never be able to drop it down to such a low amount. Therefore, I need to face reality: I won’t retire in the next 3 years! However, I don’t expect to work past 55. And I don’t plan on living off $7K/year either! In fact, I aim more to spend $70,000 per year! (I have expensive tastes and I will be able to afford them).
My Definition of Retirement
Before I tell you how I intend to retire at 55 with over $70,000 per year to spend, I need to tell you what my definition of retirement is. 50 years ago, “retirement” was another word for “about to die”. Now, you can see “young” men and women of 75 running 30 minutes daily. This means that if you want to stop working at 55, you need a nest egg able to cover about 35 years of living. This is why the definition of retirement needs to be reviewed.
I don’t expect to stop working ever. On the other hand, what I really want to get rid of is the “obligation to work”. At 28, I started to work 4 days a week and this is only the beginning. I don’t want to be forced to work or have to be there from 9 to 5. Therefore, my definition of retiring is being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. This is closer to financial independence than retirement ;-). If I could work 20 hours a week and still live the same lifestyle, I think I would retire today!
The main reason why I want to retire early is definitely not because I hate my job. I would actually keep doing it but at a much more relaxed pace. On the other hand, I really like to enjoy life as it should be:
- Spending as much time as possible with my wife and children,
- Travelling around the world, eating at the best restaurants available,
- Trying new activities (like skydiving or climbing a mountain!) ,
Unfortunately, in order to do this whole list I need 2 things: time and money!
How Can You Retire at 55 and Spend $70,000 per Year?
Retiring early is pretty simple if you are willing to cut on everything up to the sugar you put in your morning coffee. It’s another thing to retire young and have plenty of money to spend. Nonetheless, I expect to retire at the latest at 55. Here’s how I will do it:
Start working young in a big firm. I started working for my employer at the age of 23. This is a big firm offering a generous pension plan. At the age of 55, I’ll be able to take 96% of my full pension. This pension equals 70% of my base income (so 67% in my case since I’ll be having 96%).
Maximize my retirement account. Since the beginning of my career, I don’t save much money on the side. But, I’ve had 2 priorities: building a 25% down payment for my home and maximizing my RRSP contributions (which is the Canadian equivalent to a 401(k)). So far, my RRSP contributions are maxed every single year. By the age of 55, I should have a solid nest egg. I usually use my year-end bonus do to it.
Have a sideline. Having a “plan B” has always been on my mind since the age of 14 (the year my parents went bankrupt… but that’s another story). This is why I started my online company; to never be left without an income. I currently don’t have an emergency fund; I have a small money making machine instead. I hope to grow this machine to a level where I could “retire” before 55 J.
Early retirement is affordable for anyone
Over the years working as a financial planner, I have realized that the concept of early retirement is accessible for almost everybody. It is obvious that retiring before 45 requires extreme sacrifice (would you really mend your clothes to retire younger?), but retiring around 55 is definitely feasible. A good job combined with a strong saving strategy and you are almost set. If you want to make sure you cover all the angles, just add a sideline to the equation.