How I Was Able to Retire At 24

How I Was Able to Retire At 24

Written by Mark

Topics: Uncategorized

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Retire at 24?! You’re thinking, “Come on, He can’t be serious!”  But I am serious. Just not in the sense of retirement that we are all used to.  Normally, you retire near the end of your life.  I am retiring now. Usually, you work almost your entire life to save for retirement, so you can relax and enjoy your final years.  Something just didn’t sit right with the path of the deferred life plan.  I decided to find a way to make a mini quarter life retirement possible.  This is how.

How much do you spend each month and what on?

I saved money and “bought” my freedom. How!!?? The first thing is to know how your money is being spent each month.  Then ask yourself,  “How much on average it takes for me to keep my current lifestyle going each month?”  Most do not know.  Most of us have a general idea, but these vague thoughts do not give us a handle on our personal finances.  Keep track of everything.  YES, every single expense.  Every dollar, every penny.  You’ll be surprised to find where your money actually goes.  Start looking at an expense not just in dollar terms, but also in terms of your time.  If you make $10 an hour, that $5 coffee had you working 30 minutes in a job you don’t like.  If you make $20 an hour, you had to work 15 minutes and so on.  This also assumes no taxes.  If you take into account your after tax income the amount you have to work is even higher.  Take an incremental $100 spent on rent.  Assuming a tax rate of 20%, you have to earn $125 in order to take home $100.  ($100/.8) = $125.  At $10/hr this is 10 hours of work, at $20/hr this is 5 hours of work.  This spirals quickly.  Once you have your list of expenses you will then have an idea of where your money goes.  Now divide your expenses in each category, etc by your hourly wage so you can get an idea of how many hours you spend at your job for each purchase, category, etc.  You can make this as simple or as complicated as you’d like.

Cut down those expenses!!!

Once I had an idea of where my money was going, I started cutting expenses to the bone.  Giving up comforts was easier when I looked at how I would be able to use that money in the future to liberate myself from having to be dependent on a steady stream of income.  Save 1/3 of your current expenses for 3 years and you can live the same lifestyle for one year without having to work.  Lower the expense of your lifestyle and you can stretch that even further.  I was excited to see how far I could lower my expenses.  The lower they were, the more I would save, and the quicker I would be able to “buy my freedom”.  There are a million ways to save money.  Here are some of mine.  I started bringing my lunch to work every day.  I cut out my gym membership.  I stopped buying new clothes.  I ate out less, and when I did,  I tried to get something reasonable on the menu.  I significantly curtailed pricey drinking at bars.    This became easier as I started salsa dancing, and when you go out dancing you don’t want to drink or you’ll be sick or not as coordinated.  Note*** I started salsa dancing because I liked it.  I didn’t start to save money.  I still had to pay for lessons.  I considered this an investment in a skill.  I didn’t cut back on these investments in skills, but mainly on the consumption of material goods, impulse buys or fleeting purchases I would never see again once consumed,  (expensive dinners, etc.).  I cut down my cell phone plan.  I remember the day I got rid of internet on my phone.  It seemed so hard at the time, but I don’t even think about it anymore.  I sold as much stuff as I could on Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist.  I signed up for every focus group I could find to make some extra money.  I did whatever I could to lower my expenses and earn extra income.  I even circulated dollar coins to get free airline tickets. Dollar coins are heavy, and all that lugging them around made for some good exercise :) .

You Can Buy Your Freedom

You can, but it will be in your own way and on your own schedule.  There’s no right or wrong way.  There’s no right or wrong time.  There will be expenses that are necessary to you, but considered discretionary to others, and vice versa.    You may think it’s impossible, but it’s not.  There are many outside factors (including point in one’s life, current income, obligations, loans, etc.) that can make this more or less difficult to achieve.  I believe that “where there is a will there is a way” and that if you put your mind to it, you can leverage the power of your will along with the tools of the world to find your way.

Photo from flickr

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31 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Nicely put, Mark.

    I’m slowly getting my expenses under control (I have no debt), but it’s all the little things, and things you don’t even think about that add up. Tired old phrase, but it shouldn’t be: “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

    I think the issues around how much things really cost is an important one. Depending your tax bracket, you could be paying a lot for things in terms of how much you work for it.

    I like that you were clear about all of this being different for each person depending on where they are. Certainly if you had kids and a big amount of debt, it would take longer to achieve, but the principles are the same.

  2. Mark says:

    John, always great to hear from you. All the little things that we don’t even think definitely add up. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of every single expense so we can be aware of where our money is actually being spent. Being aware of what your expenses are, is the single most important thing to saving and being on the path to financial freedom.

    Having kids, a mountain of debt or another hindrance changes the situation, but doesn’t make anything impossible. When the situation is different, it just calls for a different approach or remedy.

  3. Josh Crocker says:

    Where there’s a will there IS a way! Feed that hunger and it’ll work itself out!

    Mark, this is fantastic brotha! I’ll be celebrating my 5th month of “retirement” in 4 days, and I can tell you, you’re in for one wild ride! One thing that you haven’t experienced yet is how much LESS it costs you to NOT be at a location-dependent job. Even for someone who measured expenses so closely (using mint.com and the 4HWW dreamline calculator), it was almost magical after my first month out of the office to see how many expenses I had at my job that I overlooked. The time factor alone is enough to make up for more than most costs.

    Even though I don’t really know you, I’m proud of you and excited to see where you’re headed next. This is a great post!

    • Mark says:

      Hey Josh, happy 5th month of retirement!!! There are so many costs associated with a location dependent job that are easily overlooked. There’s commute costs, (cost of gas, train/bus passes), and then the huge category of purchases, impulse buys, etc for things that you buy to get yourself through the day or make you happier in general at work. These are just a few. There’s an incredible amount of expenses that are overlooked. And YES, the time factor alone is amazing. My first week has felt incredible. It’s been good connecting with you Josh, and I’m glad you are along for the journey.

  4. Dan says:

    Rockin’ post. I used to track every penny using a cash-based system, every two weeks I would pull out a huge wad of cash and put it in three different areas of my wallet, I think they were “fun” “food” and “golf” so every time I opened my wallet I would have a visceral feeling of my money running out. The amount of cash was calculated with a spreadsheet and in reference to my overall life goals. The system prevents you from having to think of every single purchase in the broader context of your life, which can be difficult especially after one of those expensive drinks you are talking about. Old school but worked!

    • Mark says:

      Dan, your old school system worked! Whatever you have to do to track your spending or lower your consumption! Each person may have to do their own thing, but the goal is the same. I like how your system limits consumption without the stress of looking at every purchase. Instead, it limits spending by bracketing the cash with having preset limits. Physically seeing the money being spent also acts as a deterrent. Thanks for sharing your system and glad you liked the post!

  5. Ross Hudgens says:

    I like this a lot.. it makes me not want to spend $150 on Crossfit this month! I don’t think I could go without internet on my phone, because that actually allows me to be more productive to do other things better. That’s how I use strategies like yours to channel my spending – is this purchase making me productive?

    If yes, buy it. If no, don’t. I can channel down to clothing whether or not something will make me more productive. Will this shirt make me happier which allow me to produce more when I work? Or is it a fleeting purchase that will only supply momentary happiness? Therefore, I’m never, ever going to buy a TV. But I might buy an iPad eventually, if I can justify it as way to read more effectively – as lounging can actually relax you and make work eaiser/more enjoyable, and thus, more sustainable.

    Liked the post — good inspiration!

    • Mark says:

      Asking yourself if the purchase is making you more productive sounds like a great way to channel spending. Saving time can save money. I’m right there with you on never buying a TV. I never watch TV! Whatever the purchase, each person is going to value things differently. Some things like TV, we can cut out, but someone else would consider a necessity, and there are things we would consider necessities that others could easily cutout. Glad you liked the post Ross!

  6. Hackman says:

    I wondered why I saw your last day on our calendar. I had no idea you weren’t with us anymore. Kudos. I do like the post, but unfortunately in a serious relationship this is hard to implement. I can be one of the most frugile people on earth, unfortunately my wife cannot. Maybe it is because while I am slaving she is already in retirement. Nah, not true. But I do use a thorough spreadsheet to track my expenses. It is a good way to gauge what you can and cannot afford. It also helps me save for trips. If I need $1,000 in 10 months, I just add 100 a month as an expense and put it away in a savings account. I have been lazy a few months and skipped on the spreadsheet and it is amazing how loose I become with my spending.

    • Mark says:

      I hadn’t noticed my last day was listed on the company calendar. I’m glad we could connect here man. It’s been an incredible journey filled with many emotions. I definitely agree that being in a serious relationship can hinder saving, as there are sometimes certain expectations of relationship spending. It is much easier when both people in the relationship (or marriage) are on the same page when it comes to spending habits, and future goals. If the future goals are the same, but one person’s spending habits hinder these, then there needs to be a shift in either the goal or the spending. I like your way of adding a $100 expense so on the spreadsheet it looks like you have spent more than you have. Psychologically, the money isn’t there and you won’t spend it, yet it remains in your bank account. Genius!

  7. Farnoosh says:

    Dear Mark, so nice to see your blog – GOOD FOR YOU! I am so thrilled to learn of such empowering stories! I am older than you and have been pondering the ideas of retirement, much to shock of everyone around us. It is still a strange concept for anyone to swallow but I have been notorious about my finances for over a decade so why not pursue what keeps burning at the pit of my belly every day..! Thank you for being so brave and so kind to share!

  8. Mark says:

    Farnoosh, thanks for the good wishes and support. Early retirement is definitely a strange concept that can evoke shock, awe, and condescending smirks. I absolutely agree Farnoosh! If something is burning at the pit of your stomach everyday, then go for it! Talk about consistency. Notoriously keeping track of your finances for a decade! It’s easy to keep track and be good for a little while, but the true success is sticking with it long term. I still struggle sometimes, but the end goal is what keeps me going. It hasn’t been that long though. Keep on rocking out and prolifically living life!

    • Farnoosh says:

      Thank you dear Mark. I think the reason I was able to do that with my finances is because the other burning desire has been the need to be financially independent. My family struggled during immigration from Iran and through Turkey years ago and I vowed to never be poor or struggling again. Now it’s time to live more fully :) ! Let’s keep inspiring one another. If you need a cheerleader fully behind that super early retirement, you can count on me any day of the week!

  9. Walter says:

    How I wish it could be easy Mark. Having a family oftentimes make it hard to manage finances, especially when trying to meet both ends. :-)

    • Mark says:

      How I wish it could be easy too Walter! It’s not. There’s no magic pill, and there’s no magic way. Having a family definitely makes it hard to manage finances, but doesn’t make it impossible. This is an area where single guys like myself loose credibility with those that have families, as we are seen as at a stage where it’s easier to live like this. At this stage, not having a family makes it much easier to manage my finances. However, having a family does not necessarily make this freedom of living how you want unattainable. There are plenty of people with families doing just that. Redpath Family, Crandall Family, and Vogel Family Just to name a few. Good hearing from you Walter.

  10. Farouk says:

    very useful advice Mark,
    everyone must learn them while he is young before he grows up and messes things up, thanks :)

  11. Jeff says:

    This post is one of your best so far. It provides real value for your readers. Most of our society purchases items because they have been socially programmed to do so. Either that, or they are just to lazy to take care of things in a more economical manner (make their own coffee for example).

    Once you become AWARE of your finances and realize that they actually exist you will start to find ways to save money your never believe existed.

    I live a good life, I don’t particularly want ANYTHING. I do not have a “real” job. Every morning I wake up, I DO WHAT I WANT.

    It’s liberating – and it has to be good for your health to wake up every morning with a smile on your face because you aren’t the mans bitch.

    Bottom line, there are other ways to exist besides having a typical nine to five job. For those of you that are happy with that existence, that’s okay too, but it’s not for everyone.

    I’ve found over the years that I enjoy having options.

    Being financially free gives you MANY options.

    Options make me happy.

    • Mark says:

      Jeff, I am glad you find the value in this post. Too often those socially programmed purchases are what trap us in the first place. It’s always great to hear from someone who “does what they want”. I’m sure those options you have make you sleep easier, and enjoy life. Success stories are great as they provide proof and inspiration.

  12. Scott says:

    Mark,

    I know exactly where you’re coming from. 5 years ago I was living on only about $1000 a month in a very nice condo. I could have quit my job anytime I wanted to and lived off of the money I made doing other things I enjoyed. Instead of pulling the trigger, I ended up buying a house I didn’t need and am now trapped in my job, because quite frankly, no one else will pay me the ridiculous salary my current employers do.

    I should have quit when I could have.

    • Mark says:

      Scott, It is never too late. Unfortunate events have trapped many in situations that aren’t favorable. A good friend of mine has been wanting to sell his home, but the current fall in home prices has put him “under water” and completely wiped out his equity. If no one else will pay the “ridiculous salary” your current employers do that is even more of a worry. What would happen if you were to be laid off? Then all that time spent trapped in your job to pay for a house you don’t need would have gone to waste. Can you sell the house without taking a loss? If you take a loss, would it be worth it to rent from somewhere at a lower rate so you could build up some savings? Is it possible to rent your house out and live in a more affordable condo or home, so you can pocket the monthly difference? I truly hope you find a way out of your trapped situation. Nothing is forever. Scott, thank you for the candid response.

  13. Mark-
    When you say retired, are you talking, forever ever or just temporarily? Sounds like you’ve bought yourself a few years, but not permanent retirement…

    Is that right?

  14. Mark says:

    Joel, absolutely correct! This is not a permanent retirement. When I say retired I’m talking about how I have bought myself a few years or a mini retirement. Retirement is something looked at as reserved for old people who have put in the time or made enough money where they never have to work another day in their life again. I’m not retired in the standard sense where I’ll never have to find another source of income. I am embarking on a mini retirement where I will have the time and health to embark on a journey around the world I otherwise would not be able to if I was going to retire when I’m 65 in the regular sense. While I have bought myself a few years, I hope to find something I’d like to do to earn a living that I will enjoy. This could be something from as like working in a hostel or whitewater rafting instructor to starting my own business. Permanent retirement is not something I am looking for right now. I’m looking for incredible excitement and adventure along with figuring out how I’d like to make a living. I am looking forward to this journey and seeing how it all pans out.

  15. Brent says:

    Thanks for your comment–and great article right here, too. Take care, and keep up the good reads :)

  16. Tony says:

    I hope you enjoy the adventure! I have a similar strategy, I cut down expenses dramatically to buy much greater financial freedom, after a nasty divorce reset my finances to below zero at 40 (watch out for that one guys). I do like the sound of white water rafting instructor though – very cool! Great blog, and I’m enjoying reading over the articles.

  17. Mark says:

    I have high hopes for the adventure! I can’t wait for the journey to begin, yet I am enjoying my time in Chicago so much now. Life is great. I have never felt better or more free. I like your “Tao of Simple Living”. Tony, it’s awesome how you bounced back after a nasty divorce like that. Great reading list you’ve got there!

  18. Woo hoo! Here’s to kicking the deferred life plan in the ass in order to live life NOW!

  19. Mark says:

    Cheers to that Nina! Hell yes! To rocking out life!!!

  20. Mark, how is retirement going for you? Do you ever wish you found a fulfilling job you enjoy that also helps build your savings? Or, is it no biggie?

    • Mark says:

      Retirement has been going great! It has been the most incredible and fulfilling set of experiences so far. I’m not looking for a job at the moment. I’ve been working on my own company SpotHero which I co-founded with a friend.

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