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- I finally got serious about retirement planning in my 30s and opened a SEP IRA.
- But I realized I needed a better plan to achieve my goal of early retirement as a millionaire.
- Now I’m keeping a strict budget, diversifying my investments and building new revenue streams.
For most of my twenties, I rolled my eyes at the thought of saving money for retirement. I mismanaged my finances, spending more money than I earned, so the thought of putting money aside for the distant future was something I definitely didn’t want to do.
When I turned 30, I realized I didn’t want to struggle financially anymore. But to change that, I would have to make some important adjustments.
l started an emergency fundkept to a strict budget, started investing and for the first time in my life took saving for retirement seriously by opening a SEP IRA.
But seeing that more and more adults in my life couldn’t retire at age 65, I knew I didn’t want to follow in their footsteps and still want to work hard at a full-time job at that age. So I’ve set myself a hefty goal: to retire (ideally in my fifties) as a millionaire. To achieve this, I now take five steps.
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*Need is based on coverage of 70% of your annual pre-retirement income and a life expectancy of 100 years.
1. Keep a close eye on my money
While retiring as a millionaire is my future goal, in order to take steps in the present to make that happen, I need to make sure that I now have full control over my finances.
For the past year, I’ve set a strict monthly budget that I usually stick to (or almost stick to) to limit any overspending. I try to save between 20 and 25% of my income every year and use that money to fund my emergency or retirement fund, or contribute some of it to my investment portfolio.
To make sure I stay on track, I regularly check my finances.
Every day I make sure that I process all the purchases of the day and keep those numbers in my budget.
Weekly I check my credit card statements to monitor my spending and make sure there are no errors.
At the end of the month, I spend an hour self-reporting my entire net worth, tracking how much my investment accounts went up or down in the month, how much I could save, and decide how much extra money I can contribute to my retirement fund that month. (in addition to my monthly minimum that I contribute).
2. Make ongoing contributions to my pension fund
Before I turned 30, I had a small 401(k) that I contributed to a few times over the years and nothing else to show for my retirement savings.
After opening a SEP IRA, I have decided to contribute a fixed minimum amount at the end of each month. Contributing monthly to a SEP IRA allows the money in that account to grow tax-deferred until retirement, meaning I don’t have to worry about paying taxes on that money, or growing it, until later. At the time of retirement, the money I withdraw from that account is taxed as income.
3. Increase my income streams
When I ask financial experts how people retire as millionaires, I often hear them say that the average millionaire has multiple income streams. After I was fired from my full-time job in 2015, I realized that depending on one income stream is dangerous and limiting. Instead I try to have in between five and seven income streams at the same time.
Currently, I have income from my business and multiple sideline activities, including freelancing, selling online courses and products, offering my services for hire (whether pet sitting or babysitting), and monetizing my social media audience. I hope to add more passive income streams in the near future by investing in real estate and renting out the property.
4. Stay Out of Debt
While going into debt is something I want to avoid completely, things happen in life and I may have to finance a major purchase or pay for an emergency without noticing much.
To make plans for the unknown so I can stay away from credit card debt, I’ve been building my emergency fund for the past four years.
Since I am self-employed, some financial experts recommend that I at least: six months of the costs saved in an emergency fund. But because I’m hyper-focused on making sure I can stick to my spending and savings strategy, in order to meet my future retirement goal, I’ve decided to save in my emergency fund for at least eight to 10 months to cover any unplanned expenses.
5. Diversify my investments
When I started investing a few years ago, I put money into individual stocks and cryptocurrency without having much of a plan. I realized I wasn’t being strategic with my investments and decided I needed to diversify my investments to increase the chances of my money growing in the market.
I did this by investing in table of contents and mutual funds in many different vertical markets (rather than just buying individual technology stocks like I was) and invested in funds that include both US and foreign companies.
By doing this, I can avoid taking too much risk with my money in the market and instead go for a longer-term growth plan.