Is Early Retirement a Realistic Option to Pursue?

I believe that the younger Americans in their 20s and 30s are more focused on quality of life versus previous generations.  As such, these individuals value experiences, value their time, and value the possibility of early retirement. With market crashes, high unemployment, bankrupt social security, underfunded pension plans, and more ugly economic factors, the possibility of traditional retirement has been compromised greatly for many Americans.  If traditional retirement is far from a sure thing, is early retirement even remotely possible?

Photo by epicture’s via Flickr

Early retirement is possible for people today even despite a terrible economy.  The factors that make it possible, however, are not the things that people depend on for traditional retirement like social security and a pension.  The factors that can make early retirement a real possibility for you are all driven by you in areas such as frugal living, a non-materialistic lifestyle and hard work.

Defining Early Retirement

When most people think of retirement, they think of goofy senior living communities, sitting on the beach and playing golf.  Well, the retirement vision for most young people today is very different.  It is a time of “working” out of interest and passion rather than necessity.  It is a time of travel.  It is a time of spending time with friends and family.  It is about financial freedom versus having millions.  Golf and beach are optional.

Such an early retirement can be had by resorting to extreme frugal living.  Or a form of early retirement can be found by escaping the traditional “nine to five” job and becoming a freelancer or independent contractor.  Such a move can result in increased flexibility and mobility, two of the traits many are searching for when pursuing an early retirement.

Getting Extreme At A Young Age

Your greatest chance at being able to move towards a form of early retirement is to get extreme at an early age.  Unfortunately, young people these days take the first few years or even decade of their life to climb out of the debt hole from student loans and irresponsible behavior.  Such a time period puts off your accumulation of funds that are needed for an early retirement.  So, your first priority is to not accumulate debt.  By having zero debt, you can get extreme and put money towards your savings account rather than your lender.

When you’re young, the steps you take then will have the largest impact on your future versus any other time period of your life.  This is due to the amazing power of compound interest.  If you can start extreme saving early on in your 20s, you will be amazed at what kind of funds you will have accumulated in your 30s.  This available capital will become a huge asset and allow you greater flexibility in choosing your path whether it is early retirement, starting a business, taking some time off, etc.

If you’re debt free, consider the path of extreme frugality and extreme saving.  The strict financial habits you embrace at an early age will set you up for a myriad of options down the road.


Early retirement is not the traditional retirement that the baby boomers are striving for.  It is a lifestyle that offers flexibility and a variety of ways to spend your time rather than working until you’re 65 at your typical “nine-to-fiver”.  You must realize early, however, that to give yourself the option of such a lifestyle, you need to be both frugal and you must save much more than the average person.  By starting young, you can make significant strides and provide yourself the option of early retirement regardless of whether it is something you will actually do at that time.  Wouldn’t you rather at least have the option?

About the Author

By , on Apr 16, 2010
Kevin is the writer behind focuses on aggressive investing, developing income streams, money management and more with advice targeting 20-somethings. You can read more about his pursuits of online income and financial freedom.

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Leave Your Comment (7 Comments)

  1. Darren says:

    In my opinion, early SEMI-retirement is possible. This could mean leaving full-time work at around age 45, and transitioning into part-time or freelancing work for several years.

    I read a fantastic book called Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt. It discusses this exact topic, and shows you how to go about planning for semi-retirement.

  2. Joel says:

    This has super info that everyone should read. Early retirement is possible.

  3. BenWL says:

    I hope to achieve financial freedom by the age of 40 years. What worries me now is more and more young working adults are owing piles of debts through credit cards, unpaid loans and mortgages. This should not happen in the first place as they should look long term in their financial savings.

  4. Guy G. says:

    You’re so right about the younger generation.
    I deal with a lot of clients who want to retire at 50 or 55, but they also want to go to a concert, buy the nice car, big house and all the other finer things in life. It’s so hard for them to learn tips on budgeting and get disciplined with their spending so that they can save more towards that early retirement.
    Thanks for sharing,

  5. Anything is possible. Just gotta put your mind to it. I broke the 7 figure market at 27, and was well on my way to multiple 7 figures until the downturn hit. Things are back again though, which is great.

    Long live the bull market!

  6. Chris says:

    I think “semi-” retirement is my goal at this point. In this economy, full retirement seems a very distant reality.

  7. Jersey Mom says:

    Although some people in their 20’s and 30’s haven’t begun to think about retirement yet, others do. I also agree with you that compound interest plays an important role in accumulating wealth. I began saving right after college and am still saving. Although my husband and I won’t be financially independent for awhile longer, we are getting closer and closer.

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