6 lessons from a man who retired at 37

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6 lessons from a man who retired at 37
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Clark is big into the idea of taking charge of your financial future and empowering yourself. Today we present the story of Evan, a man who saved diligently enough in his younger years that he was able to retire at 37!

Read more: 5 lessons from a man who retired at 33

When Evan started working at 22, he didn’t know he would spend the next 15 years at the same job working as a government employee in the Denver metro area.

‘When I started my job, I was intrigued by that idea [of being a max saver] and found I could do it and live happily,’ Evan told us in an episode of the Empowerment Zone.

‘But early on, I was just doing it and not knowing what the end goal would be. I figured I would just work until my mid 50s or early 60s, but probably be that much better off than everybody else [for having saved so well.]’

Then around May 2013, an idea came into focus: Evan would be able to retire early—really early—and not have to worry about money. He finally hung it up last year.

‘I had an epiphany that I didn’t have to work until 55 or 65. Because of my kind of unusual ability to save, I could just use that to my advantage and just quit working that much sooner,’ he says.

‘I worked very hard to get my job and I loved it. It was a good job. But I just realized as a W-2 employee, there’s always going to be people that can tell you what to do. So I realized that my ability to save was also like an ability to buy freedom and I could just live how I wanted to, which was very appealing to me.’

Here’s how he did it and what you can learn from him…

Live on your starting salary as a baseline

Evan didn’t make much money when he started working. But he was able to save like a boss and could easily stash away bonuses and raises when they came.

Look for as many investment vehicles as possible

Because he was a government employee, Evan participated in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). It’s kind of like the corporate world equivalent of a 401(k), but for government workers.

When Evan maxed out his TSP, he started doing a Roth IRA.

For 2016, you can stash away $5,500 annually in a Roth. (Those 50 and older can play catch-up by stashing away an additional $1,000 for a total of $6,500.)

If you still have extra money, open a taxable brokerage account

When you’re investing, keeping fees low so more of your money can go to work for you is the name of the game. Evan says he opened a brokerage account and invested that way too. Here’s a list of the best discount investment brokers.

Pay off your mortgage early

Evan put a down payment of 40% on his home and paid the mortgage off in five years by aggressively paying down the principal.

Here’s one simple strategy you can borrow from his mortgage playbook: Set up your own bi-weekly payment schedule.

he net effect is you’ll make 13 payments in 12 months and slice several years off that debt!

Cut back in smaller ways

Evan quickly realized his bicycle was the most efficient way to get around town. His expensive car was just sitting there depreciating while he paid for insurance and registration.

So did he get rid of his car and go bike only? No way. Most Americans would balk at that idea. What he did was even smarter…

‘I just bought a simple little used compact car with 78,000 miles on it. That was a life improvement because when I do get around, it’s so much easier to parallel park in that compact car,’ he says. ‘Plus, gas and insurance are nothing for it. So that was a nice little hack that accelerated me into early retirement.’

If you’re looking at buying a used car, be sure to check out our guide.

Another small thing he did? He cut the cord and went with an over-the-air antennae. So long, expensive cable bill!

Have a plan for what to do in retirement

Just how does a newly retired 37 year old spend his days? Evan compares being retired so young to ‘an extension of the weekend.’ He simply does what he loves, only he does it for longer! For example, he volunteers regularly for the breakfast shift at Denver Rescue Mission and occasionally delivers food via Meals on Wheels alongside his uncle.

‘There’s plenty to do. It’s only limited by your mind. I think as I get into I’m going to wonder how I was ever able to sit at a desk for 15 years.’

Read more: New tool determines if you’re getting paid enough

The steps one man took to retire at 33

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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