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Is It Possible to Retire in Your 30s or 40s?

Posted: 19 Dec 2016 02:05 AM PST

Fox Business asks if it's possible to retire in your 30s or 40s. They answer it in two ways: 1) you shouldn't really even try and 2) it's very difficult.

But they do have some thoughts that I like including these:

"I'm all about retiring early if you can afford it, though I like to think of early retirement as financial independence or financial freedom," says Cathy Derus, financial planner and founder of Chicago-based Brightwater Financial. She likes the definition that comes from fee-only financial planner Matt Becker of Mom and Dad Money. "He says financial independence is the freedom to make decisions based on what makes you happy instead of what makes you money."

When you're financially independent, you have options, she says. You can choose to spend more time with your family or travel or volunteer. You can also decide to work, but you might want to find something more fulfilling than a standard 9-to-5 job -- perhaps working reduced hours.

They go on to suggest the 4% rule should be your guide. So if you're going to take 4% out of your savings every year, divide your annual income need by 4% and that's the amount of saving you need.

Here are some examples:

  • If you need $30k per year, your savings needs to be at least $750k ($30k / 4%).
  • If you need $75k per year, your savings needs to be at least $1.875 million ($75k / 4%).
  • If you need $125k per year, your savings needs to be at least $3.125 million ($125k / 4%).

You get the idea.

I have a few different thoughts:

1. Can you retire in your 30s or 40s? Of course. Knowing if you can or not is simple retirement math.

2. Financial independence may or may not be linked with retirement. They are two separate things.

3. If you have assets that produce higher returns and/or levels of income, you don't need as much as the 4% rule suggests. For instance, if you have $1 million of rental real estate that earns you 9% back a year in income, that's $90k. The 4% rule would suggest you need $2.25 million to retire needing $90k. That just isn't true in this situation as you not only can retire with less than half that, but those assets generate enough so that you don't even have to draw them down into retirement.

4. If you want specifics about whether or not you have enough to retire, I recommend the book How Much Money Do I Need to Retire?. It's the best retirement book I've ever read.

So, what's your take on this issue?


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