7 Simple Adjustments to Make to Save More and Retire Early

by David@MoneyNing.com · 11 comments

retire earlyWe cannot change the cards we were dealt, but we can certainly increase our chances of success by changing how we play the hand.

Tweaking our outlook can dramatically improve our life. There’s no doubt about it. In fact, there are plenty of tricks we can employ to improve our finances by adjusting how we view the steps needed to achieve financial freedom. These are trying times, and it may not seem that way, but rosy days are ahead. This too shall pass. Here are a few ways to help you do what’s necessary by just changing how you look at each situation.

1. Try to think of the day you can retire with each contribution.

Figure out how much you need to retire and then calculate the day you can do so if you are struggling to see how your seemingly minuscule retirement contributions are making a difference. Obviously, you will need a plan in place to figure the date out first, but whether it’s an hour, a day or a week, being able to see how your retirement date is getting ever closer will help you save more.

2. Look at the exact date when you will become debt free.

Similarly, if you can’t find the urge to put more than the minimum towards your debt, then relentlessly check the date every time you make that extra payment. Just make sure you really celebrate when that day comes, because it’s a major milestone. (Like this tip? Here are 25 more ways to pay down debt.)

save and retire early3. Setup a intermediate goal for your savings.

Start with short-term goals if you can’t seem to stop buying today because you can’t see the benefits of tomorrow. For example, setup a vacation fund and you will instantly start comparing that $5 coffee expense against delaying your trip. You can also make milestones on your longer term goals. Instead of just aiming to pay everything down to $0, setup goals to celebrate whenever your debt load is 75%, 50%, 25% of the original.

4. Visualize how much you have to work to pay for your purchases.

This works amazingly well for bigger purchases. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to buy a car. All you need to do is think of how much longer you’d have to work in order to pay for that vehicle which sits idling most of the time. Buying that Tesla is fun and all, but it could cost your family a couple years of extra employment per purchase. You may still end up buying the car, but you better really love the drive.

5. Find the motivation.

Finding the motivation to look for part time work is tough, because you are often concentrating on the low hourly wages. Think of how much more you can spend on your hobby with the money you make on your part time job, and this will entice you to apply. (When you are ready, here are 15 ways to earn extra money.)

6. Lower your exposure to stocks.

If you can’t seem to save, how about being able to not even look at the stock market because you don’t need the potential returns? I know my life would be simplified (and probably quite a bit more comfortable) if I have so much saved that I can drastically lower my exposure to stocks.

7. Carve out the time like it’s your job.

And if you really can’t find the time to clip coupons, think of whether you have time to deposit the free money if someone just offered the sum to you on the street. You know you have the time, and money is money whichever way you can get them.

Sometimes, adjusting our view is all it takes to turn failure into success. Try it. The tactics work with money, and everything else too.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Smooth Rick says:

    I like the suggestion to carve out time to clip coupons like it’s your job. If saving money works just as well as making money, then making the effort to use coupons is like having a part time job.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      I like how you are treating this as a part-time job Rick. The kicker is that this is very lucrative part-time work too!

  • Willing to work says:

    The point about motivation is key for me right now. I really need work. Open the economy back up and let everybody go find a job. There are 35k new cases every day and with imperfect social distancing in this country, we are severely dragging out the pain.

    Do you want to rip the bandaid off and let the wound heal faster or do you want to die by a thousand cuts?

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      You’ll be happy to know that states are beginning to gradually open back up. Even California is beginning to open clothing stores and other retailers on a limited basis this Friday. There’s hope at the end of the tunnel!

  • Joseph B says:

    OMG I wish I heard your message before the crash 🙁 I won the game by having more than enough to retire on but I had too much stocks when the crisis hit.

    If only I listened to your advice of having low stock exposure because life would be more comfortable!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      We all make mistakes, so don’t worry too much about it. I imagine that while you were aggressive with your investments, you were pretty conservative on your estimates on how much you needed to retire. Run your calculations again and you likely still have enough to retire. In other words, you still won the game. You only lost a bit of your lead. If that’s not the case, you can still comfort in knowing that you’ve won the game once and can do it again.

      Have faith!

  • bryan says:

    Great article. I have another adjustment. Whenever you are about to buy something, think about whether or not you will still be using it 5 years from now. If the answer is no, then don’t buy it.

  • Marbella says:

    My basic rule of all saving is not having credit, down payments or loans. With cash you can always get better prices and contracts. I do not take high risks in shares, bonds or mutual funds. Also do I not any impulse buy, I plan all my purchases at the right time. There is my retire plan.

  • Bernard @ Financial Freedom says:

    I like the act of comparing your $5 coffee to what you really want/need.

    Once you sit back and look where you are spending your money, you’d be amazed at where it goes to waste.

    I’d suggest looking at your credit card bill or receipts and markup the charges that can be done away with.

    Then, take that extra money and put it towards your savings account…or something that you want to buy in the future.

  • thefrugallery says:

    Mint.com has an excellent way to save towards a goal. You can setup various goals, tell it how much you can contribute, and it will calculate how long it will take. It will also tell you how much more you would need to contribute in order to move the date up. When you have leftover money in your budget, it reminds you that you can “retire 3 years early” if you apply the money towards your goal. It has really changed the way I save for my goals!

  • KC @ PsychoMoney says:

    Great advice. So many of us get caught up in the marketing of life and loose track of what is really important, like working for our things or working for something more, like retiring early.

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