Want to Retire Early? You Might Need to Give Up on These Dreams.
Do you daydream about being able to retire early? That dream can become a reality with deliberate planning, focus… And sacrifice.
Yes, sacrifice. That may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about exiting the workforce early. But as with any ambitious goal, some sacrifice is indeed required. Unless your retirement is being funded by an inheritance (or you’re able to make a tremendous amount of money in some other way), your aspiration to retire early may be at odds with other dreams you are entertaining. Here are some dreams you might need to give up on — or at least rethink — if you want to retire early.
1. Your Dream Home
If you’ve always pictured yourself in a sprawling 5-bedroom home or a beautiful condo, it’s time to reassess. With housing expenses typically accounting for your highest spending category, what you spend here will have a tremendous impact on your ability to retire early.
This does not mean you’re destined to live in a shack, but keep in mind that with a large home also comes sizable utility bills, taxes, and maintenance. Choosing a more modest approach to housing will help support your goal of early retirement instead of work against it.
2. Living Where You Want
You may also need to give up on living in the city (or neighborhood) of your dreams. Whether that’s an expensive city like New York or San Francisco, or a wealthy suburb in a great school district, living in a desirable area means significantly higher housing costs — not to mention higher costs for taxes, food, transportation, and more. And those inflated costs could be killing your vision of early retirement.
The decision to settle in a place where the cost of living is lower after you retire might be one you have already considered. But making that move sooner rather than later just may increase your chances of hitting your early retirement goal.
3. Upgrading Your Car Every Couple of Years
Do you like the thrill of leasing a new car every two or three years? Do you move from one auto loan right into the next? That habit may be thwarting your chances of retiring early.
In addition to the lease or finance payment, a new car is likely to carry higher insurance premiums, taxes, and registration fees, which will cut into your bottom line. Even taking maintenance and repairs into consideration, holding on to your current car, provided it’s in decent condition, will allow you to direct funds typically spent on upgrading your vehicle to financing your early retirement.
4. Having a Bunch of Kids
If you’ve dreamed of raising your own Brady Bunch, you may need to rethink that goal. With the average cost of raising one child currently at $233,610, having a big family can adversely affect your early retirement. If you throw college funding into the mix, having just two children could potentially have a million dollar impact on your retirement plans.
This is not to say that having kids is off the table if you desire to retire early, but with one child costing you a quarter of a million dollars, you may need to decide what is a priority for you. This Cost of Raising a Child Calculator can help you estimate what to expect to spend annually based on your income and where you live.
5. That Rewarding (But Low-Paying) Career Path
Your income is an important part of the equation that dictates your ability to retire early — the more money you have coming in, the more you’re able to put towards retirement. So if you have chosen a career path that pays more in self-fulfillment than it does in actual dollars, it’s time to reassess either your line of work or your goal of early retirement.
Pursuing a noble career path — say, as a social worker, a teacher, or in the non-profit sector — over one that promises a sizeable paycheck is commendable. But the satisfaction you may experience in doing so isn’t likely to let you retire early. Of course, seeking out a career only for the money is not ideal either, as that will leave you wanting to push up your retirement date to tomorrow. Find a balance in doing work that you enjoy, uses your skills, and supports and funds your retirement dreams.
Review Your Priorities
Aiming for an early retirement is an ambitious undertaking, but it’s one that you can achieve — if you’re willing to prioritize that goal. You don’t need to live a life of austerity or give up on all your dreams, but it’s worth remembering that any aggressive goal comes with tradeoffs. To gain the freedom and flexibility an early exit from the workforce provides, you may need to adjust or reimagine some of your goals and priorities as you navigate your path to retirement.