While this may sound like an outlandish statement, this goal remains more than achievable in 2014.
“Sure,” I can hear you say, “you could win the lottery, for example, or inherit a financial windfall from a beloved and wealthy relative.” Each of these eventualities may enable you to retire immediately, while also negating the need for you to ever work again.
While this is true, such a goal can also be accomplished through hard work, frugal living and sound financial planning. This is why early retirement is an option that remains accessible to everyone, although whether you not you choose to chase such a dream is entirely up to you.
In order to illustrate how this is possible, I will be using the example set by a close family friend of mine. He is now 33 and officially retired last year, although he still likes to invest some of his hard-earned income into profitable ventures and schemes. He no longer works for others, however, and nor does he operate full-time as a freelancer or independent contractor. This is a dream that he pursued relentlessly and strategically from the time when he was studying at university, as he decide at the age of nineteen that he had no desire to work full-time within a soulless corporation.
The exact inspiration for this life goal is unclear, although he was obviously influenced by the experience of his parents. They toiled hard for an entire generation; retired in ill-health at 65 and barely had enough money to live the comfortable life that they deserved. He drew great inspiration from this, and vowed not to give so much of his life in pursuit of such intangible returns. Instead, he developed a clearly defined and fast-tracked plan for financial independence, which would begin in earnest at the age of 22 and ideally end with his official retirement a decade later.
As he was studying marketing, he initially decided to combine his studies with freelancing as a content writer and online consultant. He started during his second year at university, and spent 9 months or so developing his reputation and working for relatively low levels of remuneration. In year 3 he increased his client range and fees, however, and set out to earn £48,000 per annum after taxes during this 12 month period and repeat this throughout the following decade. While this figure was conservative, he would at least be able to avoid VAT liability and higher tax rates in the process.
In real terms, this plan translated into spendable income of roughly £4,000 per month. This is where the execution of the plan came into play, as he deemed it realistic to save an estimated 70% of this monthly income into a high-yield savings or investment account. The remaining 30%, or £1200 in simple terms, would be used to live on and settle all outstanding bills. This worked seamlessly during his final year of studying, and by the end of this, he had managed to save an annual total of £33,600 at a generous interest rate of 8%.
Once he had left university, he found it far more challenging as he faced a constant struggle to keep living costs down. Although having just under £15,000 per annum to live on is far from ideal, he felt that his ability to adopt a frugal lifestyle would ultimately determine whether or not this could be done successfully. So he quickly began to minimize costs, initially by moving back in with his parents temporarily and accessing real-time promotions to cut everyday costs, such as food, beverages and those associated with energy consumption.
As the years progressed and he continued to hit his savings targets, so too he developed even more frugal living measures. These included embracing the thrift market, and investing in second-hand clothing and accessories. He also decided to travel exclusively on public transport, even cycling or walking where routes and distances permitted. Over time, his seemingly far-fetched dream became an actionable and strategic plan, which quickly evolved thanks to patience, discipline and an ability focus on a single-minded goal.
By the age of 32, my close friend had managed to save £33,600 at a fixed interest rate of 8% for 11 consecutive years. This had created cumulative savings of more than £520,000, which could then be used to fund his retirement and achieve life-long financial goals. Almost immediately, he plowed £150,000 into a modest but functional home of his own, and distributed £300,000 across various investment savings accounts with interest rates with variable risk and interest rates of between 6 and 8%. He then used the remaining £70,000 to create an investment portfolio that included shares and other derivatives, and strived to turn this into incremental profit over time
He is now enjoying the fruits of his labor, and lives comfortably while having the power to determine when and how he invests. This is a template that can easily be followed by anyone, although each individual must apply their own interpretation and translate this into a retirement plan that suits you. It is imperative that you visualize your retirement and determine exactly what you want from it, before implementing a viable time frame and actionable strategy. You may not wish to invest your capital once you have officially retired from work, for example, which means that you may need to save for longer and create a large fund to live on.
Another key lesson to learn is the importance of frugality, which is crucial if you are to turn a seemingly fanciful vision into a realistic and achievable goal. As this example proves, early retirement of any description is only possible if you remain focused and are willing to make significant sacrifices with regard to your lifestyle, as otherwise you will be unable to save the requisite amount for the required period of time. Without a commitment to frugal living, you will be forced to work longer and delay your individual retirement plans.
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