This past week I turned 33 years old. I’m starting to become aware of the fact that I am no longer a young man. I’m definitely not old by any means, but having another birthday made me reflect a little on retirement.
I only have 32 years of working life left until the traditional retirement age of 65 in America. That’s less than my current age. Needless to say, this is the first time this have ever happened.
This got me thinking about the current state of money within individual American households.
Recent Retirement Studies
CareerBuilder recently released a study that says 30 percent of U.S. workers age 60 and older don’t expect to retire until around 70 years old. A separate 20% of workers are saying they don’t think they will ever be able to retire.
Another study released by the Atlantic in June 2015 concludes that only those U.S. workers that are making more than $100,000 are confident that they’ll be able to retire by 65. Another conclusion found in the study is that lower-class Americans making $30,000 or less were most likely to feel that they might never retire.
Lastly, a study released by the Addison Group in October 2016 found that 47% of Americans believe that they will have to retire at an age older than their parents were when they retired.
All in all, this tells me that the state of money management in the American household is not in a particularly great spot.
Take Control of What You Can Control
There are several factors that play an important role in the confidence a person has that they’ll retire by 65. Many of these are out of our control.
We can’t control getting a boss that subtly discriminates against us and holds us back without us even realizing it. There’s no way to control the fact that timing may play a part in getting the dream job you’ve always wanted. It’s impossible to control where we grew up or what our parents instilled in us, good or bad.
Author Brian Tracy says “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”
Controlling our attitude toward the things we can’t control allows us to have some sort of control over it, not over the situation, but over ourselves. This, in turn, allows us the energy we need to put toward the things we can control. Instead of focusing on your situation, put your focus on the things that are within your power to change.
That’s right. 65 is going to be the absolute latest age I will retire regardless of the situations life throws my way. I am choosing to take control of what I can control and let go of what I can’t control.
Now, this is easier said than done and takes a lot of practice. I try to constantly remind myself of the successes I’ve had and the things I’ve done well. If a failure comes to mind (which they will), instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, I try to remind myself of what I’ve learned.
This is something I highly encourage you to practice doing in your own life. Remind yourself what you’ve learned from your failures. Remind yourself of what you learn studying finance. Celebrate the small wins. Be on guard against people who may bring negativity in your life.
Control your attitude when you can’t control your situation.
Here Are Some Things You Can Control
In addition to controlling our minds in situations we have no control over, there are a number of things that we can do to ensure financial success and retire when we want to. I mentioned that my worst-case retirement age is going to be 65 years old. I want to retire much sooner than that, so I’m taking steps now that will help me get there.
What can you do to help ensure you retire at your desired age? Let’s take a look.
Control Your Budget
I’ve tried many ways to budget. I wasn’t successful until I created a budget that worked for me. Creating a budget that works for you is the best way to control your money.
Sure, there are some things that you definitely want in every budget, but certain ways of doing things, like giving every dollar a job, may not work for you. It’s important to find out what you value and how your budget is going to work best.
Watching how much you go out to eat, buying only the groceries you actually need, and deciding not to keep up with the Joneses are all ways that you can control your budget.
Even your income can be controlled by you to some extent.
Start a Side Hustle
Grant Cardone, a man who wears many hats including author and motivational speaker, specializes in sales training. In essence, he teaches people how to exponentially increase their sales income. I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’ve ever seen him in person or on video, you know that the guy has an amazing energy to him.
Grant, and many others, believe that the key to reaching your financials goals and having plenty of money to retire early is by increasing your income rather than saving. Grant Cardone has been quoted several times as saying that you can’t save your way to millionaire status.
Whether you agree with his philosophy or not, there is no denying the importance of increasing your income and increasing your number of income streams.
So what sorts of hobbies do you have? Is there anything that you enjoy doing that you can make money from on the side? Some possible side hustles may include:
- Playing music in a band
- graphic design
- website design
- freelance writing
- Driving for Uber or Lyft
- Serving at a restaurant (if you’ve got the time and desire)
- Starting your own business
- and many more
Start a side hustle to increase your income and give yourself the ability to invest more.
Don’t Just Save—Invest
Saving your money is a great first step, but it is not enough to allow you to retire by 65. The math simply does not support it. To illustrate this point, I’ve used the following scenario.
You deposit $1,000 into the best savings account out there right now. It gives you a 1% interest rate compounded daily. You continue to put $1,000 in savings every month, an amount that many would consider a good amount to save. You start this at 20 years old and continue diligently for 45 years until you retire at the age of $65. Your ending balance after all of that?
That’s it. Not even three-quarters of the way to being a millionaire after all of that money saved. You need to invest.
Investing your money allows it to grow. Most predictions say you can faithfully earn 8% interest on your investments in the stock market barring any type of great recession that might hit. Doing the same thing above with an average 8% interest rate would earn you $5,392,550. Now that’s a retirement nest egg!
Combine investing with growing your income and you’ve got a win-win scenario where you can retire much earlier.
Take Advantage of a Company Match
This should be a no-brainer, but research shows that 41% of lower income workers and 15% of higher income workers don’t take advantage of a defined contribution plan. A defined contribution plan is a company matched investing plan.
A company match literally guaranteed that my 401K had an 80% return in 2016. If you are not taking advantage of a company match, something you have 100% control over, then you are literally leaving money on the table. That money is money that your company has given to your freely.
You should probably accept it.
Continue Your Education
Now, don’t take this as permission to drown yourself in student loans in the name of education. There are many ways to continue educating yourself in the age of the internet. A lot of them are free, some are cheap, and others are quite expensive.
Perform a Google search for a topic of your choice and your bound to find a ton of great articles on what you want to learn. There are also more expensive options like courses that you can take for upwards of $1,000. Some of Grant Cardone’s video packages are $200 and $300.
The point is to spend some time and maybe some money to invest in yourself. This gives you a couple of things.
First, educating yourself gives you the knowledge to make better decisions. Will you make mistakes? Sure, but arming yourself with knowledge will give you the best chance of making great decisions. You can learn how to start your own business or design websites for other people. The sky is the limit.
Secondly, if starting a business isn’t something you desire or want, additional education will help raise your value to any employer you may come across. The good news is that most companies now don’t just pay attention to college education. If you have experience as a freelancer doing something like coding or web design and can show a body of work, you can get hired or promoted.
Education yourself on investing is also a great idea so you can make great decisions with the markets.
What’s Your Worst-Case Scenario?
In a day and age when many people think they’ll be lucky to retire at 65, I’m making 65 my worst-case scenario. I don’t want to retire a day after I turn 65. In fact, I want to return much smoother.
If you want to do the same then controlling your mindset is of utmost importance. Along with controlling your mind and not worrying about situations you can’t control, it’s important to control the things that you can control, such as controlling your budget, earning more income, and investing instead of saving.
Focusing your energy of what you can control, rather than what you can’t, is a great way to ensure that you are retiring when you want to and not on someone else’s terms.
What age are you hoping to retire at?