Planning to Retire Early? Read This First

No matter what early retirement looks like for you, here are the three steps you’ll want to take to make it a realistic possibility or to prepare for a forced retirement that you may not expect.

Decide How Old You Want to Be When You Retire

To some, early retirement means age 45, and to others, it means age 60. Even five extra years can have a major impact on the amount of income you may need. The first step in planning for early retirement is to pick a target age or date.​

You’ll then want to project out what would need to happen by that age. Think about how much you would need to save, and what your expenses might be. A rough rule of thumb called the 4 percent rule says you can withdraw about 400,000 shillings a year per 10 million of savings. If you think you’ll spend 4 million a year, you’d need 100 million saved. This simple rule is not meant to be precise, and it does not account for the true figures of taxes, inflation, and other sources of income, such as Social Security, but it is a starting place.

As you expand this future vision and add details, you’ll want to account for all of the factors that may play into this vision, or that may affect your cost of living and income. These may include:

  • Your life expectancy and how many years you will need income once you retire
  • When you can and should begin taking Social Security payouts
  • How you will cover the cost of health care until you reach age 65
  • Changes in your future way of life, such as new hobbies that may cost more
  • Assets you have now that can be sold or must be kept
  • Costs you have now that can be cut to create a slimmer budget
  • Loved ones who may rely on you for support, or vice versa

Decide Whether You Think You’ll “Work” Once You Retire

Some define early retirement as the time when they no longer have to work in their current job, but they would still like to earn income through a new career, hobby, or passion. For others, it means they have reached a point where they will never work for money again. Some will keep their jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with income at all, such as to stay active, social, and engaged, and to keep their minds sharp.

If your version of early retirement means you don’t want to pursue any ventures that bring in income, you will need to save much more ahead of time than those who plan on earning money in some way.

Even if you do plan to work part-time after you retire from a full-time job, or if your plan includes a new side gig, keep in mind that many people who planned on working after they retire do not end up doing so. Health issues can also be a factor that people don’t foresee when planning to work into their golden years.

Invest With Income in Mind

Once you have come up with a figure for the amount of savings and future income you will need, the next step is to invest with this goal in mind. Spend some time researching the ways you can invest, and structure your savings to produce a steady income. Now that you have a dollar figure and a deadline in mind, you should be able to create a portfolio that suits your needs in a more precise manner.

Keep in mind also that planning to retire requires a personal shift, and you may need to assess the way you have invested in the past. Do you tend to take risks with your money? You may find that your risk tolerance will need to adjust as your income goals and time horizon change.

Retirement is not the time to make quick or reckless impulse choices. To compare, think about how much you know about your career field, the years of training and real work it took to gain that knowledge, and the amount of income it has paid you over time.

The way you choose to invest your money now will need to provide income for the rest of your life. You can’t afford to make mistakes, so take the time to conduct research, ask questions, and act with prudence.

One common piece of wealth wisdom is that the best retirement investments are chosen because they are part of a larger plan, not bought one at a time as the mood strikes. Look at the big picture and invest with a plan to treat the whole of your life after you retire.

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