Getting your house in order for retirement or financial independence is not that difficult. However, many investment professionals, journalists and commentators seem to complicate the issue to the point that we can’t even understand it. Safe withdrawal rates, stocks, bonds, balanced funds, commodities, options, laddered portfolios, annuities, offshore accounts, hedge funds … are you kidding? No wonder some people are confused and scared! But don’t get too stressed out yet because retirement is not rocket science!
What’s a person to do?
First, you need to recognize your needs. Let’s be realistic here. How much are you spending now? Not how much do you make a year, but how much are you paying out? With today’s computer tools, this is a very easy task to compute. Or you can do what we did: Create a chart on a piece of paper and add to it daily, much like the example below.
|Date||Cumulative spending||Day#||Cost/p/day||Times 365|
(These figures are for illustrative purposes only.)
The longer you keep track of current consumption, the more confident you’ll become about your future spending habits.
Once you know your expenditures per year, take a look at where that money is going. If it’s to pay credit card bills or other consumer debt, you need to pay that off first. It’s fine to use credit cards as long as you completely pay off your balance monthly and stay out of debt. I know this is not easy, but it’s your future, and the money you were paying in interest can now be invested.
With your debts paid off, you can commit to financial independence. Analysts say a guideline of 25 times your annual capital outlay should be enough to sustain your current lifestyle. With the data you’ve collected in your chart, you can easily calculate a target amount. It’s really that simple.
How do you get there?
Only you know what your risk tolerance is, but have some faith in yourself. Learn about no-load mutual funds, and low cost ETF’s, and become your own financial advisor. You can do this. Remember, it’s not how complicated your investments are, it’s how well they perform and whether you understand them.
You’ve managed your finances for 40 to 50 years already, right? Maybe you weren’t perfect, but you’re still here! So do you think that you can manage your finances for the next 40 to 50 years? Even though you will no longer have that paycheck coming on Friday, there are many ways to pay yourself each week. You could simply write yourself a check each Friday, or have automatic withdrawals transferred into your checking account.
But start today. Get your consumer debts paid off completely, educate yourself on investment opportunities that you understand, and take control of your future. Dream of financial independence, and let that motivate you.
You can do it!
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.