Unfortunately, I am only 22 and have yet to retire. (Sorry if you got here thinking you’d meet someone who was already sippin piña coladas on a houseboat…) However, I do have a plan to retire no later than the age of 35, and hopefully be the time I’m just 32.
My father just retired this year at age 51 and I remember how his coworkers, young and old, were beyond proud of him because he had worked for so hard and so long. My father was a UPS driver for a good 29 years and made a very decent living.
While my family never lived in too much excess, we still struggled with finances often. Things like school, housing, and even our dog came with expenses that we just didn’t see coming. Watching my parents, I decided that I wanted to try my best to lessen the blow when I live on my own and retire at an earlier age so I didn’t have to feel like something was always coming in the way of me and whatever future dreams I’ll have.
In order to keep myself motivated on my journey, I made a list of solid reasons I wanted to retire early. A coworker once told me that a dream without a plan is just a dream, so I remind myself of my plan and end goals to stay motivated.
With that, here are my top 10 reasons I made the decision to start my journey to financial freedom!
Number 1: Inspiration from another early retiree
For those that don’t know, I’m pretty much addicted to Pinterest. I mean I logged on because I saw a notification and didn’t come up for air for 4 hours addicted… I can be on there all day!
Well while I was on there, I came across a blog post by one of my favorite blogs Making Sense of Cents. In the first post I saw by this blog, I read about a woman by the name of JP Livingston who retired at the age of 28 with a net worth of $2.25 million and growing to this day.
At first I immediately thought that she had done it by some get-rich-quick scheme or was the founder of some big brand company.
I don’t know why, but something pushed me to read it anyway. Instead of reading about a woman who buys diamond encrusted collars for her toy poodle like I thought I would, I was instead reading about a humble, frugal woman who went into great detail about how she built her goal of retirement through saving, investing, and living an extremely minimalist lifestyle.
I was instantly inspired, and it was that one blog post that made me make my life changing decision and begin my journey. If you’d like, you can read the blog post here.
Number 2: If she can do it, I can do it.
I get my competitive spirit from my mother, and neither of us will believe that we can’t do something. Sure, we might not be the best, but if it’s possible, we know we can learn.
This innate instinct kicked in as soon as I finished the article I read. I almost heard the click in the back of my head from my “You can do this too” switch.
I actually remember coming home from work that night (yeah, I was on Pinterest in between phone calls at work…) and telling my mother all about it. She chimed in at once and told me about the stories she’d heard about millionaires that didn’t have cars and only shopped at Goodwill. As I heard her talk about their frugality and how they travel full time, I knew that I could do it.
And my mother said to me, “You know if you started now, you could retire by the time you were about 35.”
It was then solidified that I would retire no later than 35, and my mother would help me every step along the way.
Number 3: I don’t want to owe anyone anything
Not sure if anyone reading this is a believer in the Good News, but I am.
My favorite version of the Bible to read is the New Living Translation (NLT). The verse I want to focus on is Romans 13:8 which reads:
“Owe nothing to anyone- except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”
Whether or not you believe in the love of Jesus Christ and God’s Word, I think it’s important to not owe anyone anything. I would like to be indebted to no one at all and owe nothing but love. I never dreamed of having enough stuff to suffocate in debt.
Reading this verse reminds me of the movie The Jonses, where a fake family is paid to wear and use the latest and greatest in order to make their neighbors jealous. The neighbors then begin to buy what they see this fake family have and the company profits off the greed of the people who see them.
In the end of the movie, one of the neighbors ends up killing himself because he couldn’t keep up with the bills that he had. He purchased far more than he could actually afford, letting his greed eat him alive, and ended up becoming so stressed he took his own life.
I don’t know about you, but to me, it really isn’t worth all that.
Number 4: Financial freedom
One of my biggest bills right now is school.
I went to Grand Canyon University from 2013 until the beginning of 2016 and am starting school at Baylor University on 8/21 of this year. From GCU, my parents were able to help with most of my bill, but to be honest it was much more than what we should have paid simply because I didn’t earn enough scholarship money. We were strapped for cash and I ended up having to go to school online after my first year on campus.
I stopped going to school there for a few reasons, and suddenly got a phone call from Great Lakes in December of 2016 telling me that I owed about $16,000 in student loans. I freaked and ran to my mother who said that she had paid everything, but apparently now that I was done with GCU, this bill was hanging over our heads.
I knew it was my responsibility, so I took up the bill myself. $170/month for the school bill and $100/month for my phone bill.
Thankfully while I was working as a bill collector I was making about $32,000/year so I had enough to pay my bills and continue to save, but I didn’t like seeing mail come in my name asking for my money. It was a feeling of adulthood that you don’t really think about in your late teenage years.
I made a mental note to keep my expenses as low as I could when I started this journey so as to make my way toward financial freedom instead of living the rest of my life in debt.
Number 5: Freedom to work where I want
Though my job as a bill collector was the best job I’d had yet, I never thought I’d ever see myself ending up in a cubicle.
When I first got the job in January of 2016, I remember thinking, “This is it. I’m going to stay in a cubicle for the rest of my adult life.”
I was obviously over exaggerating, but I didn’t like the thought of working on such a strict schedule for the rest of my life. I wanted to see, do, be, become. I wanted to learn and travel and help.
And that wasn’t going to be accomplished working 9-5 doing a job I didn’t want.
Number 6: Freedom to travel
People look at me and think I’m “African American”.
I look at myself and know that I’m “Jamaican American”.
Then I look at pictures of Jamaica and tell myself to quit fooling myself with fancy labels because I still have yet to even see the place for myself.
I’ve wanted to travel for as long as I can remember. Though I just moved from Arizona to Texas, I was actually born and spent the majority of my life (so far) in Southern California. Yeah, I’m a valley girl who was dragged to the desert and now lives in the midst of farmlands.
Though I like the changes of scenery, nothing beats the ocean (I was born in Oceanside, California). I can look at a picture of a pineapple and instantly miss my home here on earth.
Not only do I want to see where my roots come from, but I also have a mild obsession with Japanese culture, and would love to visit the country sometime. And let’s be honest:
That’s not happening if I’m constantly working on someone else’s schedule.
Number 7: Practice minimalism and frugality
I’ve never had a pair of jeans cost more than $20, a pair of shoes cost more than $30, or even a piece of fine jewelry cost more than $250. (I worked at Pandora before I worked as a bill collector.)
Although I like to think of myself as a minimalist, I find myself wanting stuff too much. What I mean is, I can sit on Crate and Barrel until I see everything in the store and save everything I want to my wishlist as if I was really going to purchase everything I just saved.
I don’t need that stuff, and the happiness that it will bring me isn’t going to last that long if I’m going to be honest with myself.
When I really think about an item that I truly want, it would have to be an old fashioned Polaroid camera that I can take on my adventures.
I want to teach myself that what I have is enough, whether or not other people think it is. I have nobody down here to try to impress; none of the naysayers are paying my bills.
Number 8: Truly retire
Watching my retired parents stress about the money it will take to put me and my sisters through college is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen…
I know they don’t like to complain, but things would have been much easier on all of us had I started at a community college and worked my way up, paired with getting better grades in high school and if we got more scholarships overall.
This isn’t supposed to be some pity party; it’s a fact. One that the family accepted and has come together to figure out. My mother can do anything she puts her mind to, and with her business degree in hand, she’s always got a plethora of business ideas in her pocket. We all are working hard to make sure that my sisters and I get the most of this experience while also not breaking the bank.
Seeing this makes me remember what I want to do in retirement: retire! I don’t want to have to have a heart attack worrying where money might come from or what will happen if I get strapped for cash.
My goal is not to be rich. My goal is to be stable.
Number 9: No stress
Again, I don’t want to have to stress when I come across financial trouble.
I know that the saying goes “more money, more problems”, but will the same occur if you spend your money wisely?
The way I see it, money should be seen for what it is: a tool. Currency. Not power, authority, or even success. That’s not my goal in any of this. I don’t even need to make 2.25 million to be satisfied. Once I get to the point where I don’t have to ask myself if I can afford a hardship, I know that I’m set. Who knows; that may come at $800k.
Number 10: No burdens
My main reason I still live at home with my parents at almost 23 is to save money. My parents always told me and my sisters that we can stay with them as long as we want so long as we are always working and/or in school. Pretty good deal if you ask me…
I know that I’m saving tons just by staying home instead of living on my own right now, and to be honest I look forward to the day I purchase a small condo or townhouse and stop being a burden to my parents.
I know they don’t see their invitation and my taking it as a burden, but there’s some sense of pride being an adult and having your own, you know?
I also don’t want to be a burden on anyone else, and I believe being able to claim financial independence and freedom will help me to achieve that.
I still learn so much researching financial freedom and early retirement every day! I hope that I can continue to learn from others and hopefully inspire someone to join me on this journey!
Perhaps I will start to post more of what I’m learning as I learn them. Sometimes it takes me a minute to grasp a concept, and I know I can’t be the only one. XD