Even with plans to retire in your 50s, there are reasons you may not have an early retirement. Most of us don't want to work into our 60s or 70s. But leaving the workforce early takes careful preparation during our younger years. Early retirement is possible, but it might not happen if you do these seven things.
1. You Haven't Started Saving
If you're in your 30s or 40s and haven't started saving yet, there's a chance that early retirement will not happen. You might be able to make larger contributions going forward and catch up. However, early retirement is more likely to happen when you plan early. As soon as you graduate college and get a full-time job, talk to your employer about a 401(k) or look into IRAs.
2. All Your Eggs in One Basket
There's no rule that says you have to diversify retirement accounts, but this makes sense. Some people only have a 401(k) plan through their employer or an individual retirement account. But there are ways to maximize retirement earnings, such as money market accounts, certificate of deposits and regular savings accounts. Spreading your money across many types of accounts can ensure a comfortable retirement.
3. You’re Tapping Your Accounts
It isn’t enough to open several retirement accounts, you have to leave money in these accounts. Unfortunately, some people dip into their retirement fund to buy a house, take a vacation or make home improvements. It's your money, and you can use it however you like. Just know that the more withdrawals you take, the harder it’ll be to reach your retirement goals.
4. Cost-of-living is Too High
If the cost of living is high, this can limit how much you’re able to save for retirement. There are several ways to handle this. You can move to an area with cheaper housing, or you can look for ways to increase your income. For example, part-time or freelance work might provide extra cash to increase your retirement funds.
5. You Didn’t Plan Well
If you underestimate your retirement needs, you may not retire early. Understandably, you can't predict exactly how much you'll need after retiring. Several factors determine retirement needs, such as debt and inflation. But if you work with a financial planner, this professional can estimate how much you’ll need to save to maintain your standard of living.
6. You Sacrificed Retirement for Your Kid’s Education
Some people delay planning for retirement because they’re too busy saving for a child's education. Again, you ultimately decide how to spend your money. Understand, however, that there are several ways to pay for college, such as scholarships, grants and student loans. But there are only a few ways to save for retirement. If you have money to save for college and retirement simultaneously, go for it. However, if you have to choose one, retirement takes priority.
7. You Have Debt
The less debt you owe when you're ready to retire, the better. If you avoid credit card debt, and if you're able to pay off a mortgage and auto loan before retiring, your funds will go farther.
Retiring while you have energy to enjoy life is a major plus. But to do this, you need to plan well and early — as early as your 20s. If not, you might be working until your 60s or older. What other factors can delay retirement?