If you’re reading this right now, you’re most likely either looking for a way to retire early or you already have a plan in place. Either way, the thought repeatedly comes to my mind of ways to make retiring early happen even sooner.
I run an interesting gamut of being frugal with most things but still splurging by taking cruises and other fun vacations on a regular basis. It drives me nuts to waste money on things I have the ability to control and I spend a fair amount of time trying to decrease these costs.
A good example of this is cable TV. We’re now at the point where a lot of people are starting to find ways to “cut the cord.” I was one of those early cord-cutters though. Although we still have basic cable, it’s only because the cost of Internet by itself is almost the same cost of doing Internet with the basic cable. We moved to a home theater PC (HTPC) in early 2010 and haven’t looked back. Even after the costs of the computer and getting everything setup and working, we’ve saved thousands of dollars over what we would have spent had we stayed with our regular cable package. And the best part is that there’s been nothing that we miss and there’s a lot more that we’ve gained by this transition.
There are other ways that we’ve cut back that don’t really seem to affect the way we live much either. For example, we do a good portion of our shopping at Aldi, which is a discount supermarket chain with thousands of stores across a number of countries. The gotcha is that when I say it’s a “discount” store, I mean it is in every way. The prices you pay are ridiculously low… but so are the services. You pay a quarter to essentially borrow a shopping cart, there really isn’t a lot of help around the store, and they don’t have bags to use. On top of that, the great majority of the food is generic.
To many of you reading this, you might turn your head up and wonder why a family with good incomes are shopping at a generic food store. Well, believe it or not, it serves us pretty well. We don’t do all of our shopping there and if we run into a generic we don’t like (there have only been a few items), we don’t buy it there. But, we’ve saved a lot of money over the years, we’re happy with the food, and it isn’t a big lifestyle change for us.
But this isn’t a post on getting rid of your cable or shopping at Aldi – this is a post on whether or not to make changes that actually compromise your lifestyle in order to retire earlier than planned. And in both of examples, we’ve saved a good chunk of money without affecting our lifestyle dramatically.
For me personally, when I talk about a lifestyle change, I’m thinking of something more significant… such as downsizing my house. Right now we live a 4-bedroom colonial in a nice development on a cul-de-sac. It’s not anything too outrageous, but it’s in a good, friendly neighborhood where we’re happy to raise our daughter.
However, the more I get sick of working, the more I start to think of other ways to expedite the plan of retiring early. Sure, 2025 will be here before we know it, but boy 2020 would be even better!!!
So, would I be willing to give up the nice, suburban-style, middle-class home and move into something smaller… say a 2-3 bedroom house in an area without the cul-de-sac and outside of the homeowner association? It would be tough for me to make that change. It would probably be even tougher to convince my wife to do it. But it is something I think about.
If it got me closer to retirement, that would be fantastic. However, would it change anything for our family? Would being in tighter quarters cause more arguments than we would have otherwise? Would my daughter grow up in a worse environment… or possibly better? Who know?
So the question becomes, should you compromise your lifestyle to retire even earlier?
It’s hard to tell what effects changes might bring on, but moving into a smaller house elsewhere seems to be a bit selfish on my part. We’re far from living in a mansion on a hill somewhere and downsizing now seems a bit rash. It would definitely help me to be able to get out of the rat race earlier and I’m all about cutting unnecessary expenses, but I think this is one lifestyle change that we’re not going to be making until our daughter moves out.
How about you? Have you made or considered any major lifestyle change to help you get closer to an earlier retirement?
Thanks for reading!