I don’t know why, but it really bothers me when I read articles about how so few people are saving enough to retire. The statistics for non-savers in the US are staggering.
I credit Greg for getting us on the right road. I might be the frugal one in the family, but he had the foresight when he was in his 40s to aggressively move any pay raises, tax refunds, and bonuses into our retirement fund. We also maxed out our 401K deductions to as much as our respective companies would allow.
He’ll be the first to tell you that if he could do it over again, he would’ve started much earlier.
It’s hard. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re not thinking about life forty years down the road. There’s always one more thing you want to buy, one more trip, and one more good time.
When I read articles about how badly people in the US are preparing for retirement, it scares me. They are not going to be happy when they realize how they’ll have to live their remaining years.
Although I’m retired I still freelance, which brings in a little money. I garden and raise animals for food which feeds us through most of the year. Someday soon, I hope to monetize this blog and that will help too. Maybe not now but if I continue providing good content it might pay off in a couple of years.
The point I’m trying to make is that’s it’s never too early to think about retirement. You might feel that you’re young and you have plenty of time, but I promise you, it goes by fast. So fast!
Everyone’s needs are different, but every little bit saved is that much more you can use for yourself when you’ve had it with the 9-5 grind. It’s liberating in a way I can’t describe. It’s also empowering because you don’t have to depend on anyone else.
There are plenty of ways to save money. The real test is to save it and not touch it. How good is your willpower? I’m not a financial expert, but these are the things we did to reach our goal.
• If you’re in the US, max out your 401K deductions or anywhere else where you can move your pre-tax money.
• Buy used instead of new for big ticket items.
• Ask for a raise, look for a better paying job, or take a second job.
• Pay off your debts. If you do nothing else, pay off your debts. That’ll put you ahead of the herd.
• Remember the rate of inflation. It goes up roughly 3% every year.
• Live below your means. For years, I bristled with envy every time our friends bought nicer houses, fancier cars, and went on exotic trips. But guess what? They couldn’t (and didn’t) retire when we did. We could’ve afforded the same luxuries, but we opted instead to put those funds in a money market account where it couldn’t be touched easily.
• Keep your eye on the prize. As I said earlier, it’s hard to imagine your life 30-40 years in the future, but retirement is like a huge, magnificent gift. Every day I wake up and smile knowing I don’t have to get up at o’dark thirty to fight traffic. Dallas during rush hour is like fighting for the last open spot on Earth. I was grumpy every day I had to drive through that mess.
Retirement is heaven, absolute heaven. Yes, I work hard on the farm, but it’s work I love, and it’s entirely on my terms.
In the end, it’s a choice. Looking back, I didn’t miss the fancy clothes or trips. I got something much better. I get to spend every day with my favorite person, and we don’t answer to anyone but each other. It’s a good life.
Are your retired or hoping to retire soon? What would you like to do when your day is all yours to command?