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How to Retire Early — Plan for Retirement Now

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: September 8, 2017

The mere idea of an early retirement may be pure fantasy for many Americans. Recent surveys suggest a good many of us are convinced we will never be able to retire early — if at all. That is not a very reassuring thought if you are just starting your career, family, and adult life.

In the simplest of terms, you can retire as soon as you have enough money saved to live on for the rest of your life. Determine your life expectancy based on your family history and personal health. Then multiply the number of years you expect to live in retirement by the annual amount of money you are personally responsible for covering. Obviously, there is no way of knowing with certainty how many years you will live but, in this day-and-age, it is probably a safe bet to plan for 85 to 90 years, or more.

How is a Plan For Retiring Early Different From Retiring at 65?

The only difference between retiring early and retiring at 65 is the amount of money you need to make it happen. Of course, this implies two key imperatives:

  1. You start saving sooner
  2. You start saving more

How Soon Should You Start Saving For Retirement?

Those who retire early typically start saving at 25, as opposed to 30. That said, anything is possible. No matter when you start saving for retirement, you can retire early if you have the determination, discipline, and aggressive savings plan to back it up.

How Much Money Will You Need to Retire Early?

As is the case at any age, how much you need for retirement depends on how much your annual expenses are now, and how much you expect that to change by the time you reach your retirement years.

What Expenses May Drop Off During Retirement Years?

Though the list varies for everyone, you may expect to lose expenses like mortgage payments, college tuition, student loans, and (dare I say it?) credit card debt.

What Expenses May Appear During Retirement Years?

Again, this list is dependent on individual choices and circumstances - from housing to travel - but you can be certain health care will play a prominent role.

How Often Should You Assess Your Retirement Investments?

It's a good rule of thumb to assess your retirement investments every 6 to 12 months to see where may want to pull back, and where it may be worth the risk to get more aggressive.

Is It Smarter to Pay More on My Mortgage or Put Some More Money Into a Retirement Savings?

Though paying off your home is certainly something to aspire to, never do so at the expense of your retirement savings plan. In fact, in the long run, you'll come out one-to-eight percent ahead putting a hundred more dollars toward your retirement savings as opposed to your mortgage.

Do You Need to Have All of Your Retirement Money "In-Hand" on the Day of Retirement?

Theoretically, you should have all of your retirement money saved by the big day. However, this does not apply to money you have in the stock market. In other words, don't panic and sell in a volatile market because you're afraid you're going to lose it all. As long as you don't need that money in the next 10 to 15 years, ride it out. Of course, this implies the necessity of having your the majority of your retirement funds in "safe" investments, like IRA's and annuities.