Ah…the dream. To retire at 35 years old and have your whole life ahead of you instead of being a geriatric trying to recapture his or her youth. Many people think it’s simply not possible. How can you amass enough money in such a short period of time to live off of for the rest of your life? It is possible and not even all that hard. You just have to change your thinking.

You’re Not Winning the Lottery

First things first, this isn’t about some ridiculous fantasy where you win the lottery or you somehow magically get in on the ground floor of the next Facebook. Sure it could happen. You could also be struck by lightning or die of frostbite, both of which are infinitely more likely than winning the lottery or getting in on some amazing IPO.

Instead, you need to restructure your thoughts on what it means to retire young. It’s not about living in a villa and having pretty girls serving your drinks with umbrellas in them all day. And I gotta tell you – that would get old real quick anyway. Sure it sounds fun, but after six months or a year, you’ll want to kill someone because you’re so bored.

Think about Living Abroad

One great way to retire early is to think about living outside of these United States. Don’t get me wrong – I love New York and I’m a dyed in the wool Yankees fan, even if they sucked last season when they barely made it into the post-season. But at the same time, I know that if I want to retire early, my money will go a whole lot further elsewhere in the world.

Let’s say over the fifteen or so years you work you manage to save up around $300,000. That’s an impressive sum of money. But it ain’t gonna pay for living here if you retire at 35. On the other hand, retiring in a cheaper country is totally doable with that amount of money.

Stop Buying Crap

If you seriously want to retire early, you need to stop buying all kinds of junk that you don’t need. Sure the latest iPhone is really cool. But you know what’s even cooler? Not having to answer some lame boss when you’re in your 40s. Learn to put everything away that you can and live frugally so that you can enjoy your life later on.

Rethink what Retirement Means

Regardless of what you do or don’t do about saving, if you want to retire at 35, the image of living in a huge villa, even somewhere cheap (ala the villa in Belize on Mad Dogs) is probably not going to happen. Instead, think more modestly. What do you really need to be happy? Maybe a small, one room place where you can go surfing every day is all you need.

You may also want to think about semi-retirement, where you still do some work part time, usually some form of telecommuting and you have the rest of your time free.

That solves two problems – first, when you retire, it’s not just living expenses you have to worry about but also entertainment expenses. After all, work usually occupies most of our days. If you’re not working then you need to have something to do to keep from going crazy. By putting in a few hours a day, you give yourself something to do and you get some extra income to boot.

Commit to It

Finally, whatever happens, if you want to retire early, the thing that you need to do is to commit to the goal. Make it your purpose in life and make everything else revolve around it (kind of the way Joe in accounting is so committed to his job and thinks he’s God’s gift to the world). That’s the only way you’ll manage to save enough to make this happen.

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