Sign up FAST! Login

The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

Stashed in: Best PandaWhale Posts, Awesome, economics, Retirement, Personal Finance, Personal Finance, Retirement

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Here's the good news: personal finance blogger Mr Money Mustache, who subscribes to the "4% rule", says "When your collection of investments reaches 25 times your annual spending, you're done." You can retire that day, whether you're 30 or 75.

Here's the bad news: in his view, the single most important factor in this equation is SPENDING. As in permanently reducing spending. In practical terms, that means if you really like fancy new cars, eating out in high-end restaurants, and being pampered with the facials and massages that movie stars enjoy... you will likely never be able to retire comfortably.

There is nothing considered less sexy or fun in America than reducing spending... which might be why the majority of Americans don't have any savings for retirement.

Interesting because the longer I live, the more joy I get from spending less.

Not sure that everyone can feel that joy from spending less.

you might unique in that, Adam

Jared, I'd like to hope I'm not alone in knowing that spending doesn't make us happy. 

spending by itself, no. but i do find happiness in doing things, experiencing new things, and eating and drinking with friends and family. Usually all of those things require money. 

You're right that those things require money, but there are low cost ways to do them. 

I don't even think you should focus on low-cost ways to do the things you love that are healthy and life-affirming like that! I think we should all focus on what things we can give up more or less PAINLESSLY -- which very often requires freeing yourself from the opinions of others about how you "should" be living.

Here's an example: most of my friends live in San Francisco now, and the vast majority of them seem to spend inordinate amounts of money and time on two activities: going out to eat at fancy restaurants, and then taking incredibly expensive exercise classes to counteract the damage. (Well, a lot of them do the former but not so much of the latter... I guess complaining about gaining weight is all the exercise they need!) Those are two things I have almost entirely cut out of my life, and I think I'm missing very little by doing so.

All of us have must-haves and can-live-without areas like that, but we rarely think about them because it takes effort and it's easier to just go along with the herd. Cut those out and use the money you save to spend more time with your friends and family!

good points on possible savings. is it better to travel as an adult or as an elderly person? trips are big costs and those thousands could do a lot toward retirement with 20-30 years in the market...but I doubt I will be as ambitious when I am 70 toward adventure as I am now.

I was just talking about this with a friend of mine who travels a lot, and he says that it all comes down to the health and particularly MOBILITY of your traveling party. I am lucky enough to have family that remains exceptionally active even when they're older, and honestly I find that a lot of travel is better now than when I was young -- my mind is more present instead of filled with boyfriends, career, or resentment. I took my mom on a cruise around the Mediterranean a few years ago where we walked for 6 hours a day, and my family enjoys annual camping trips where basically we do nothing but eat and hike.

On the other hand my friend's relatives, although they aren't even that old, have so many health and fitness challenges that they can barely manage to walk a half-mile on flat ground -- I mean, most AIRPORTS are bigger than that! My friend recently took them to Hawaii and had to spring for helicopter rides and boat tours because of their lack of ability to walk any distance. He said they all enjoyed themselves but it really was brought home to him how every trip now could be their last.

Knowing you, I suspect you'll be active and adventurous far longer than age 70! :)

fitting for our conversation.

It took a long time for me to get serious about reducing spending.  I'm very happy that I did, even though people think it's a bit odd that I make my own ketchup and toothpaste (and that is just for starters). 

If that's just for starters I'm curious what else you do!

This is well said:

If you are spending 100% (or more) of your income, you will never be prepared to retire, unless someone else is doing the saving for you (wealthy parents, social security, pension fund, etc.). So your work career will be Infinite.

If you are spending 0% of your income (you live for free somehow), and can maintain this after retirement, you can retire right now. So your working career can be Zero.

In between, there are some very interesting considerations. As soon as you start saving and investing your money, it starts earning money all by itself. Then the earnings on those earnings start earning their own money. It can quickly become a runaway exponential snowball of income.

As soon as this income is enough to pay for your living expenses, while leaving enough of the gains invested each year to keep up with inflation, you are ready to retire.

You May Also Like: