When I as a teenager, I told everyone I was going to retire by age 45 and they laughed. That’s sort of the ay things go for me. I dream big and I try really hard to achieve those goals. I believe in them wholeheartedly. I know early retirement is possible, in spite of the people around me laughing and shrugging me off.
My desire for early retirement isn’t because I hate my job, I actually love it. I have a good white collar job with people that I call my second family. But I do work in the automotive industry which I find can be quite volatile. I never wanted to go ion he auto industry, it’s just something that sort of happened when I was looking for jobs. And, believe me, I love this job way more than I would have loved that job working in that steel mill. But I want to do is be able to spend time with my children (if I can even have them, which I won’t focus on too much because I’m not that okay with that particular chemo side effect) and volunteer. There are a few local charities I adore and I want to give them time as well as money.
The goal of early retirement doesn’t mean I don’t have other goals. I am still going to grad school (in part because it’s been a goal since I was young, and because it’s a significant pay raise that will pay my out of pocket costs in about 2 years) and I’m still spending money on things that I enjoy, such as fancy-pants remodeling rather than a basic remodel. I still (think) I want to go into management at work, and I still want to get my name on a patent. My timeline to do these things is just 20 years shorter than the average worker.
So that brings me to the question of how exactly I am going to retire early. My plan is sort of simple: save every penny I can while still enjoying life. This means asking myself if I need something or want it, keeping my lights off, adjusting my thermostat, questioning consumerist norms. I am an engineer that takes most things a little too far (okay, maybe extremely too far) and cutting my spending falls into this category. But really, it’s just minimizes lifestyle creep which has totally happened here and there. If I exclude my tuition and remodeling costs for 2015, I actually spent about $2,000 less than I ever have (and that includes much more medical spending). That means I am getting somewhere in my spending and thus getting somewhere in my savings.
Ideally in the future, we will live off of my income less healthcare costs and maxing my retirement, and just save everything my Old Man makes. And of course, as my income increases, I will continue to invest that so I don’t even see it in my paycheck. We’re the only couple in our group of friends living this “radical” lifestyle. We contribute the most to our retirement accounts by far (and also make the most, we suspect). I co-own three rental properties (one being the property from hell) and those returns just get invested into another property. Our small sacrifices now, here and there, will make a big difference in the future. Every penny saved is one step closer to early retirement, one step closer to freedom.