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Early Retirement - You Can Do It!

Jun 13, 2008
Since the days of FDR and the beginning of Social Security, people have been conditioned to believe that retirement comes at age 65. In more recent years, however, more and more people are yearning to retire at an age where they can more fully enjoy their golden years. Here are some tips for making early retirement a reality for you.

The most important thing to consider for early retirement is your ability to live frugally. If you spend every penny you make now, it's not likely that you will be able to do any better when you retire. Teaching yourself to live below your means now will take you a long way toward realizing that dream of early retirement.

One area that many people can improve upon is the choice of vehicle they drive. After all, do you really need a new car every 5 years? If you want to retire early, then choosing a good used car is probably a much wiser, not to mention cheaper, alternative. Not only will the car payments be much cheaper (perhaps non-existent if you pay cash for the car), but your insurance premiums are likely to be much cheaper as well.

Another area to concentrate on is your home mortgage. By paying at least one extra mortgage payment per year, you will considerably shorten the term of your loan. The goal here is to pay off your home loan before you retire, so that you have one less payment to worry about when that happy day comes. Not only that, but you will literally save thousands of dollars in extra interest payments over the life of that loan!

Aside from living within your means, you will also want to start some kind of retirement savings account. You should put as much of your disposable income as you can into this account, and you should start that account at as young an age as possible. In this manner you put the magic of compounding interest to work for you. For example, if you were to put 20% of your income into an index fund starting at age 20, chances are you would be able to retire by age 40. Of course, the more you can afford to put into the fund, the earlier you will be able to retire.

The best possible away to approach the retirement savings account is to make it as automatic as possible. One way to do this is to have the money withdrawn from your paycheck each pay period, so that you never see or miss the money. If this kind of thing is not available through your employer, see a financial counselor to help you set this up.

If your employer offers one, then you will definitely want to participate in the 401(k) plan. For most plans, the employer contributes either a matching amount or a one-time yearly payment to your retirement account. That's free money, and nobody in their right mind would pass that up!

Aside from the 401(k) and the retirement account mentioned above, another possibility to consider is a Roth Individual Retirement Account. There are limits to how much you can contribute to the Roth IRA and you will have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you take an money out of the account before age 59 1/2. On the flip side, though, any money earned through the Roth IRA is tax-free forever, which is why this type of account is so attractive.

While none of these steps can guarantee you an early retirement, they are all steps in the right direction. If you really want to retire early, then these steps and more will be required for you to do so. After all, what have you got to lose by trying? At worst, you will retire with more money than you would have had without a savings plan. At best, you may retire much earlier than your co-workers!
About the Author
For more retirement planning information, including 401k, Roth IRA, and 403(b), be sure and visit http://www.personal-finances-blog.com today.
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