January 19, 2010

How to Retire Young

retire young

Have you ever wanted to retire early? How about in your 20’s? I know my goal had always been to retire early so I could enjoy the simple things in life.

Well guess what? It is possible to live a retired lifestyle, even in your 20’s, by simply following the steps I’ve listed below. The plan is broken down into two phases: one for getting to retirement and the other is for living it up once you make it there.

Phase 1: Getting To Retirement

Below are the steps needed to get yourself to the retired lifestyle. It’s worth noting that they don’t have to be performed in the order listed, since some of the steps can be rearranged to suit your needs.

I have also put a percentage after each step, which indicates how important the step is in achieving the retired lifestyle:

Reduce Your Expenses (15%)

The first step to retiring in your 20’s is reducing your expenses. The more you can cut them down, the less you’ll have to worry about when it comes to creating an income stream. The key is to write down every expense you have and then figure out how to either reduce it or eliminate it completely.

It takes some imagination to figure out how to reduce your expenses, but it can be done. Start by cutting out cable and ditching your cell phone . From there, start thinking about getting rid of your vehicle(s). This will save you money on gas, as well as on repairs and insurance.

Become A Smart Shopper (10%)

As mentioned above, it’s important to weed out your expenses. However, there will always be a few things you need to purchase. That’s where becoming a smart shopper comes in handy.

What does being a smart shopper mean? It means you know how to find deals, buy in bulk, and overall understand how to get the things you need for the least amount of money possible.

For example, instead of buying various cleaning supplies, you purchase vinegar, water, and a spray bottle. Not only will you save a bunch of money, but you’ll also reduce the amount of times you have to go to the store. That’s a double whammy right there!

Another good example is utilizing coupons, whether they are from the paper or online. You can easily save money on various things by taking the time to hunt down coupons. Besides, you have to use your free time for something…

Move To Florida (50%)

This is an IMPORTANT step in getting closer to an early retirement. You could simply follow this one step and be half way towards retirement. Not bad for a simple step that doesn’t require much planning or capital.

I managed to migrate to Florida for less than a thousand dollars and it was well worth it. Now that I’m here, I feel that much closer to retiring in my 20’s. I’m not sure what it is about Florida that makes it so perfect for retirees, but I think a lot of it has to do with the weather and the amenities available. I can literally walk down the street and play tennis, swim in the bay, play shuffleboard, or watch a few games of baseball for free.

Or perhaps it’s the dive bars with wood paneling for walls and 2 dollar mix drinks specials. I’ve managed to listen in on some pretty crazy conversations amongst retirees. Talk about the perfect place to retire!

If you need help with this step, check out my post: How To Move Across The Country.

Quit Your Day Job (15%)

It’s important to free yourself of your day job if you really want to live the retired lifestyle. Unless of course, you manage to find a nice part-time job you enjoy (door greeter perhaps?). If that’s the case, feel free to work the job for as long as you wish.

The reason it’s important to quit the day job is because most activities take place prior to 4 PM (including dinner specials). If you’re working 9 – 5, there is no way you can enjoy Florida the way it was meant to be. You’ll miss out on some of the coolest tours, tournaments, and happy hours around.

Create An Income Source (10%)

This is also an important step, and can be done before or after you move down to Florida. I would recommend working on an income stream prior to getting here if possible.

Luckily, you should have already reduced your expenses and became a smart shopper. If not, I highly recommend working on those steps first. That way you have an idea of how much income you need generate each month.

If you’ve reduced your expenses and became a smart shopper, this should require less work. The first step is to figure out how much money you need to live off of. Once you know that figure, it’s time to figure out a plan to build an income stream to support you.

Most importantly, you want to build an income stream that requires the least amount of upkeep as possible. This will allow you to truly embrace the retired lifestyle. A few good ideas include building a website, blog, or online business that requires only small amounts of daily/weekly work. Again, use your imagination.

Phase 2: Living It Up

Now that you’ve figured out how to become retired, it’s time to live it up. Here’s some great tips and tricks on what to do with your time:

Create Your Own Sleep Schedule

One of the biggest perks to being retired is the ability to create your own sleep schedule. You no longer have to worry about your day job or any commitments. So it’s a good idea to figure out when you actually prefer sleeping. If you’re a night owl, enjoy it and sleep in the morning.

However, it’s worth noting that you want to get up by noon each morning otherwise you will miss out on some of the specials in the next tip.

Early Bird Specials

It’s true, Florida has a ton of early bird specials. Best of all, a lot of them are open to all ages. Woo!

The key is to find happy hours and specials in your neighborhood and plan them out on a calendar. That way you know where to get cheap food and drink whenever you are craving them. I swear some of the prices remind me of cheap college bars on a tuesday night. It’s crazy.

Do Crossword Puzzles (And Word Searches)

When it comes to entertainment, one of my personal favorites is doing crossword puzzles and word searches. Not only are these things cheap, but they are also very relaxing. Especially if you pair them up with a cup of coffee on the back porch. It’s heaven on earth.

Read Books (From The Library)

Another great source of entertainment is the library. You can literally keep yourself entertained for free. Each week, I head to the nearest branch and pick up at least 3 books to read each week. Not only does it give me something to do, but I’ve also noticed that fiction books blow away anything on television. I barely watch any television now that I read on a daily basis. It’s also a great way to improving your writing.

Listen To Chill Music

Retirement is all about relaxing and enjoying life. There is no room for stress or negativity. That’s why I love listening to chill music all day. I’m a big fan of Jack Johnson since his music puts me in a great mood. You could also listen to oldies if you prefer.

Either way, find something that puts you in a good mood and let it play all day long.

Enjoy The Outdoors

One of the reasons Florida is so perfect for retirement is because of the weather. We did have a few cold weeks here but other than that it’s been great. I can go outside and enjoy the sun, even in January.

Best of all, there are tons of free things to do as I mentioned above. You can go swimming, play tennis, or take up shuffleboard (badass sport). But lets not forget tanning and hanging out at the beach.

Close Enough

Okay I must admit that this is probably not the best way to approach retirement. However, my life is pretty similar to what I’ve listed above. By doing what I love and combining it with a frugal, green, and minimalist lifestyle, I’ve managed to create my own version of the retired lifestyle.

Photo Credit: Micky | CC

24 thoughts on “How to Retire Young

  1. unbjames

    Funny how easy it is for us Lifestyle Designers/Lifehackers to poke holes in the Deferred Life Plan in one simple blog post!

    With regards to your post, I haven’t watched cable in almost a year and haven’t missed it (internet gives me all the news/entertainment I’ll ever need) … working on ditching the car … and the cell phone contract is history in July (use Skype/pay-as-you-go phone once I get overseas).

    A+++ post, would read again 🙂

    1. Justin Wright Post author

      Thanks for stopping by! Yeah it’s pretty crazy how the internet can replace a phone and television. Good luck with ditching the car, it’s a great feeling : )

  2. Jenn

    One of the best parts of early retirement is the early bird special/old people happy hour – drinks are so cheap! They’re even cheaper if you can find your local VFW, plus old people love to talk about “back in the day”. I wish I was alive back in the day. =)

  3. The Real Josh

    Reminds me of college, minus the sunny warm days and part-time job. Gotta give it up for working online and having the ability to migrate anywhere and save on tv, gas, time from commuting and all of the rest.

  4. Jim Gaudet

    Too funny Justin. If your not old in FL you’re probably Cuban, jk..

    I have always been an “early bird” but normally don’t go out for breakfast. I like my coffee and news (feedy now) first, but every time I have ever gone to breakfast in the morning….. loaded with retirees.

    My plan, retire in 3 years. But, retire means something different to everyone… I am glad you’re enjoying Florida. I can’t wait for your next trip..

    1. Justin Wright Post author

      lol, I don’t think I have any cuban in me, but I could be wrong…

      Yeah it’s true that retiring means different things to different people. I figure being happy with what you do and having free time to enjoy yourself is about as good as it gets.

      And trust me, I’m looking forward to my next trip too. It’s been awhile…

  5. cornelius

    hey man,

    thanks for the post. I wish I could go to Florida too..=)good thing, for me, retirement in Malaysia is an option because of low cost of living.

    As you say, when anyone heads for retirement, it creates an uncertain financial future. Our income is reduced and you have no clue about your future expenditures. However, you can reduce the stress of retirement by living in a place where your income exceeds expenditure…so for you Florida is the place.

  6. John

    Quote: “When it comes to entertainment, one of my personal favorites is doing crossword puzzles and word searches. Not only are these things cheap, but they are also very relaxing. Especially if you pair them up with a cup of coffee on the back porch. It’s heaven on earth.”

    That is definitely what I see a lot of retired, old people do, so it looks like your going in the good direction of retirement. :p

  7. Sandy

    One area you haven’t appeared to touch on is medical expenses. As you age, health care costs are a huge issue to deal with. What’s your plan for that? When you’re young, it’s easy to forget what happens to your body as you age. Getting medical insurance when you’re young is easy (or working for employer). As you age, it’s harder to get medical insurance as an individual.

    1. T.W. Anderson

      Don’t forget that medical insurance is only necessary if you live in a country where private medicine has such restrictions. I’ve been a location independent as a digital nomad now for going on four years, and one of the most important aspects of being able to live and work abroad is you have the opportunity to find countries where the medical coverage is spectacular and covered within a medical/national system, such as what exists in most of Europe, Canada and Australia.

      The only restriction is that it requires living on location for a period of time, which is fine if you love living this lifestyle and don’t mind spending at least 6 months in a destination (for most countries the minimum it takes to set up a long-term residency due to all the paperwork and setting up a domicile in another country issues) enjoying things that “normal” people only think of as vacation hobbies.

      Phenomenal site you have here. Just stumbled across it tonight when I was doing research for a new website I’m building on a similar topic. As mentioned before, I’ve been LIP/A Digital Nomad for 4 years now, and I’m at the beach 5-6 days a week (or in the mountains/jungle, depending on my mood and the weather!), I spend at least 2-3 hours a day at a couple of my favorite cafes and hangouts, I work out for at least an hour a day and spend at least another hour or two walking the parks, plazas and wooded areas of wherever it is I live, and work a few hours per day at most (3-4 hours is my average work day).

      What’s the point of working 8+ hour days when there is so much LIFE out there to live!

      My mainstay for the past 3 years has been freelance writing while I visit foreign destinations and live there for extended periods of time, which has allowed me to specialize in heading to foreign destinations and setting up long-term residencies so you can take advantage of tax breaks, foreign residency domicile benefits such as medical tourism, foreign bank accounts and real estate deals, and it’s awesome to come across individuals like yourself who are making a living free of the 9-5 rat race. I’ve spent the last hour or so browsing through various topics here just nodding my head and feeling that warm glow I get when I come across people who ACTUALLY get it and go out there and live life on their own terms Kudos!

      The Internet is a wonderful tool, allowing for an amazing life change. I’ve been out of construction going into my fourth year now, and I haven’t missed the 50+ hour a week work grind since.

      But yeah…medical tourism is another benefit of living the digital nomad lifestyle. You get to ignore those ridiculously expensive private health insurance fees.

  8. Neil

    Hey Justin,

    I like the way you think. I’m Canadian and I’m retiring really young too this October as I found my paradise in Asia. A lot of people don’t realize they own their own time. Their time belongs to the rat race. I like how you emphasize that you can do whatever you want whenever you want. Crosswords, books, etc.

  9. Scott

    No offense, but this sounds like a very sad empty life. I guess it would work for someone who feels they have no purpose in this life, but man I wanna be out there doing things and helping people. It’s hard to help others when you’re just scrapping by yourself. Aren’t the twenties when most people mature out of the notion of being a lifelong beach bum. What about when you get a wife that wants to be cared for? Or children that want to eat? Not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, just challenging the idea of doing nothing for practically your whole life. Freedom doesn’t necessarily equal doing nothing and having no obligations. It’s easy to create a life that you don’t feel the need to escape from. The chains that come with what I think you guys would call a typical life are usually just debt. Avoid debt and you avoid chains. My house, land, and cars are paid for so I can change jobs and take some risks whenever I wish, while still getting to spoil my lovely wife, spend time with my children, and not have to rely on some underwhelming national healthcare. Check out DaveRamsey.com sometime, that’s the guy who guided my family on getting out of debt. Not looking for an argument, just trying to offer a different perspective.

    Best Wishes,

    -Scott age 29

    1. Justin Wright Post author

      Hey Scott, thanks for stopping by. When I wrote this post, I was sort of being sarcastic since I knew it wouldn’t apply to many people. That’s why I made the joke that moving to Florida was a large part of the process, lol.

      And I just so happen to be a huge Dave Ramsey fan myself! I started on the baby steps last year and am now on step 4 and doing my best to keep at it.


      1. Ryan

        Scott makes some good points but I like the spirit of the post. Look for ways to exit the rat race and live a simpler life so you may enjoy the few short years you have here. Got it.

        Scott mentioned that he still likes to get out there and help others. My wife and I have even found ways to do this in a very inexpensive way. Every weekend, we make granola, sandwiches, fill a cooler full of water, and grab a bunch of our old clothes. We then drive around a poor neighborhood in our city and just give out food and talk to people. I’m tired of giving tithes/offerings to my church just to keep the AC blowing. The overhead of helping people these days is terrible. But when one decides to actually be the one helping, not just doing it vicariously through a charismatic few, the overhead is non-existent and true change is truly possible. And since our kids get in on the act, it gives them a better sense of understanding community and the laws of giving.

        1. Scott

          That’s great Ryan. If we had more people with your mindset we could out give the government and make them obsolete. People wouldn’t think of government as their provider. Just watch out for the five-0 (lol, see the link below), it’s hard for me to imagine that some people want even more government intervention in our lives. National healthcare? No thank you.


          A lot of Christians do fail to look into their church’s finances to make sure the church is doing what it is supposed to do. I’m fortunate enough to belong to a small church where pretty much everyone has to get involved in our giving operations. That makes it easy to see what is being done with the money we give.

          Enjoyed your comment,


      2. Scott

        Sorry Justin, I probably should have caught the sarcasm. These days you just don’t know. Re-read with the right frame of mind there are some helpful tips in there.

        Congrats on the baby steps, stick with it, the end result is more than worth it.


    2. Brendan

      First: to Justin – wow great site/blog (period). Quick question – what part of Florida are you in? I have been thinking for years to move there (Fort Lauderdale area) as I think it’s a bit more young and not as retired feeling.

      Second: to Scott – wow “sad empty life” that’s harsh. If a person is happy, in doing whatever they want to do, in my opinion, their life is neither sad nor empty. You may have your cars, house, and “land” (what is this the wild west) all paid off but remember you will always have taxes, insurance, utility, fuel and a plethora of other ancillary payments that you will be responsible for – forever. I respect you though – it sounds like you are a good father and provider – but please understand that you will have to work for the rest of your life paying for the above mentioned – and to me that’s stressful. All Justin is describing is leading a life that’s as stress free as can be and if given that option I know what I would choose.

      1. Justin Wright Post author

        Hey Brendan, thanks for stopping by! I lived in St. Petersburg when I wrote this post but have since moved to Portland, Oregon. I’ve also heard the Miami area is a bit of younger crowd (St. Pete does have the retired feeling).

        1. AllyCat

          OMG! Oregon! I have dreamed of moving to Oregon! I actually moved from Colorado to Florida 5 years ago and have not found myself here…yet at least! Good luck way up there!

      2. Scott

        Yeah, sad, empty life was probably a bit harsh. I guess that comes down to my personal view, I don’t feel happy if I’m the only happy one. I can’t be content unless I’m making others happy too, so that’s where that came from. I worked hard achieving the American dream and all I can really remember from before I reached my goals was wanting to help people and not having the financial means to do so. It made me feel sad and empty.

        Haha, I’ve never had anyone call me out on referring to it as my land. 🙂 I guess it’s the company I keep now-a-days. Rural, backwoods Tennessee is just as well to be the Wild West. Everyone is packing heat and I pass cowboys on horses every Sunday on my way to church. Wouldn’t trade it for any place on earth and I don’t think I could move back to the city if my life depended on it.

        As for the lifetime payments, I could see that being stressful. I was blessed with a dad that instilled in me the thought that anybody could be wealthy in America. In hind sight it’s kind of comical that we were dirt poor while he was telling me this because his business had become obsolete (For the record he grabbed the American Dream a second time). Because of that inspiration I’ve reached the point where my money works harder than I do. I could retire right now, which is why this blog stood out to me, there’s just no way I could bring myself to lay down the opportunity to touch and help people. And I could just imagine people reading this, then quitting before they became the people God intended them to be. But, as mentioned above, I was missing the sarcasm.

        I’ll point out Dave Ramsey since I’ve already mentioned him on this post. He has also had a big influence on me. He is loaded, but had he taken the early retirement route instead of inspiring hope and teaching people how to get out of debt I wouldn’t be in the same position I’m in today. I would recommend his reading list to anyone as a great place to start moving from good to great.

  10. Jack

    Great article. I’m working on early retirement myself. It takes a little effort but it is not impossible. You just have to want it badly enough to do something about it.

  11. Julia

    Hey Scott;

    FYI- Justin IS helping people by writing such helpful, inspriring blog posts.

    I am a classic 9 to 5 er and Justin’s posts have made me realize that we weren’t put on Earth for this short time to just work and accumluate ‘stuff’… After all- there is life that happens from 9-4pm on any given workday and I’d LOVE to see what its like!!


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