How I’m Able to Do It

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

So far, over four years or so, I have stayed the path towards my end goal of early retirement at around age 45.  As long as nothing significant changes with my finances, I should be financially free in a relatively short period of time.  I read a number of personal finance blogs, but this number has been decreasing over the past year or so as my interests have changed from a total focus on this lifestyle more towards (hopefully) a balanced life.  As I dropped subscriptions, I found the ones that I kept reading were the ones that were either funny or still informative to me.  The ones that I dropped are ones that generally focus on frugality, or saving half a cent per use of some consumer good and looking for pennies in savings.  Honestly, while I appreciate that those pennies turn into dollars, that’s just not me.

There are two really simple reasons why I am even able to contemplate retiring 20+ years before most people, and it really has nothing to do with saving bits of money.

The first reason is that I get paid a lot of money.  Well, not really a lot, but relative to most people I think I make a good bunch of money.  I’m a government employee, and my name isn’t showing up on the “Sunshine List” (making over $100,000), but I do okay for the type of work and the hours I am expected to do it in.  There are tons of people who make more money than me, and are in terrible financial positions, you can read about them all over the internet. So why am I currently able to put away enough money to hopefully retire 20 years earlier than them?

The second reason I’m able to have such a high savings rate is that I don’t like a lot of stuff.  This may seem like semantics, compared to the “frugal guys” but I normally don’t have to choose not to spend money on a lot of consumer goods or other things that would suck money away from my financial goals.  When I decide I want to spend money, and it’s on something worthwhile to me I don’t really fret or worry.  My wife and I are driving from Ontario to Nova Scotia this week, and we’re going to drop a ton of cash on hotels, food, gas and other attractions.  When I have time, I golf – which is a ridiculous use of money, but I enjoy it.  I’m probably going to drop quite a bit of money on beer-making equipment, to the point that it would probably be cheaper just to buy beer from the beer store, but this is something that really interests me and I want to do it, so I’ll spend the money.

Overall, I’ve basically just fallen into a super high savings rate.  If I didn’t use it to pay down my mortgage or buy investments, I would probably just have an enormous savings account.  I think that reading sites like Tim’s and Early Retirement Extreme a few years ago sort of forced me to actually think about what to do with my savings – which gave me a future goal for the “extra” money I had at the end of the month, otherwise I may have turned into a spender.

If your financial goal is early retirement, what do you think the biggest factor is allowing you to get there would be?


2 thoughts on “How I’m Able to Do It”

  1. I agree with much of this. I think of Dave’s and my philosphy as “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Saving 20 cents on something at the supermarket is “small stuff” but waiting for boneless chicken to go on sale so I can load up (I freeze the extras) and save 20 DOLLARS in a single visit to the store is “big stuff.” Paying down the mortgage is “big stuff.” Keeping a car for 15 years is “big stuff.” Not wanting to have children is “big stuff” although I had made that lifestyle choice 15 years before I saw I could retire early and even then it took another 10 years after that. (I retired in 2008 at age 45.)

    Like Dave, I had a big savings rate (in my working days; my wage income never exceeded $80k). If I wanted to something once in a while which cost some bucks that was okay because it was rare and I had the money to pay for it without having to scrape and save beforehand.

  2. I don’t know if I will ever be able to count on making a lot of money. I don’t want that to be a requirement for my early retirement plan because a lot of it is out of my control, the employment income anyway. I do want to make a lot of money on the side but that is partly dependent on time. So my plan consists mostly of knowing I am going to have a high savings rate because money is a tool to get some of the things you want, and what I want most is freedom and time, experiences not stuff. How I will do it is by having my priorities in line starting very early (4 years before I enter the workforce).

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