How to retire early when you didn’t plan ahead

You’ve always wanted to retire early but you just don’t see how you can do it.  Somehow, the years have slipped by and now you are looking at your golden years coming around the corner.  But what if you wanted to retire now?  Could you do it without having planned for it all those years ago?

Work out how much you need to retire now.  Use “Planning Now to Retire Early” to work out how much you need to retire right now.  The next step we need to do is figure out what the difference is between where you want to be and where you are right now.  What does your current savings look like?  If it doesn’t reach the mark, consider the following ideas to try to breach the difference:

  • Use your current equity to retire early.  Downsize your home, sell a vacation home, or get a reverse equity on your house mortgage.  Instead of selling your vacation home, you could rent it out year round for extra income.
  • Move in with your grown children.  Many more retirees are moving in with their families anyways; now they finally have the time to spend time with their families.  Your children might let you live rent free because you raised them like that or maybe you can stay in exchange for watching the kids after they get home from school.  Consider becoming a boomerang senior so you can use your property as a rental for an income stream.
  • Sell whatever you have in your house that you don’t need, want, or care about.  Nothing is too insignificant.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Those collections, jewelry, anything that you have at home that you care less about than an early retirement.  Have yard sales, sell them at consignment stores, or auction them on eBay.  If you would rather retire than be surrounded by stuff, then take that cue to start selling all your stuff.
  • Think about moving if the cost of living is too much where you live.  Every year magazines come out with the best places to retire.  While medical and community services as well as the crime rate all factor into these lists, one of the biggest contributing factors is the cost of living.  AACRA publishes cost of living indexes for major cities in the US.  Leaving crazy places like New York City and San Francisco out of the equation, you could still easily cut your costs down 20% by moving.  For example, using 2005 statistics, living in Charlotte, NC is 10% cheaper than living in Albuquerque, NM and 25% cheaper than living in Philadelphia, PA.  Think outside the box.  What about becoming an expatriate?
  • Consider Semi-Retirement.  Work PT.  Still consider yourself retired but working enough hours might help you with health insurance coverage.
  • Slash your annual budget requirements.  If the gym membership and a new car is all that stands between yourself and an early retirement, consider what really matters to you.  Do you want that country club membership or the chance to play more golf at a public golf course?
  • Take money out of retirement accounts earlier.  Look into Substantially Equal Periodic Payments as a way to do this without penalty.

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