My Plan to Retire at 50

Judging from the response I got to my post “How Much Should You Save for Retirement?“, people are really interested in the subject of my retirement.  In that post I mentioned my desire to retire at 50 and that I had some ideas on how to do that.  I do need to make a plan in order to reach this goal.

When I was in my early 20’s I read a book titled How to Retire at 35.  I decided that would be a good goal.  I didn’t make much money then so my plan was to start saving big money as soon as I had a good-paying job. Of course, once I had a good-paying job I forgot all about my idea of retiring at 35 and spent money like crazy. When I turned 30 I made a goal of retiring at 40. That goal obviously didn’t happen either. The problem was I didn’t really have a plan and I kept getting sidetracked and putting other things ahead of saving for retirement. Whenever I saved a little money I’d go off on some adventure and then be broke again. I did have fun on my adventures but if I had just been disciplined I could be having adventures all the time now.

This time I’m going to do things differently. I’m already better off than before because I’ve already gotten in the habit of saving for retirement. This time I’m going to keep retirement as a priority. My goal is to have $1000 a month to live on at age 50. If I retired today I’d only have $34.87 a month to live on. That is a very large gap but it isn’t as bad as it looks. That is based on just living off the interest from my savings. Based on just living on the interest, at 6% I would need to have $200,000 saved. Since I have about $6000 saved now I’d need to save about $1200 a month to meet that goal if my savings had an 8% return. That seems like a large amount considering I don’t make that much total right now. After I finish school though that should be a reasonable amount and in the meantime I’m saving all I can afford.

My goal of living on $1000 a month might seem far-fetched to some but I’m confident that it is reasonable. I’ve lived long enough to see the effects of inflation but unless we have really high inflation the next nine years I don’t think it will be much of a factor. I live on about a $1000 a month now and I could live on considerably less. One way I could cut my cost of living would be to live in a van. I’ve already posted about that and I believe it is a feasible option and one that I would enjoy. Another way to cut my living expenses would be to live in a foreign country. I lived in Guatemala for 3 months on $450 and had a great time. The cost would be a little more now but it would still be dirt cheap. A third option would be to spend half the year hiking a long trail such as the Appalachian Trail. I’ve hiked about half the AT and I think with some planning I could hike the trail on a budget of $200-$300 a month. Those are just the ways I came up with off the top of my head on how to drastically cut my living expenses, I’m sure there are many more.

That is my plan for now. It might undergo some changes before I turn 50 but I’m going to keep my focus on the goal.