I’ve lived extremely frugally for years now.
A thoughtful approach to spending has been a key component to the overall lifestyle that has allowed me to retire decades before most people.
If you’re not familiar with my story, I retired in six years on a $50k salary — going from below broke at 27 years old to retired at 33.
But nothing I did is off limits to you or anyone else.
[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]Everything I did (and still do) to save money can be replicated by anyone.
To prove that point, I’m going to discuss five real-life changes I’ve made over the years to my own spending.
These five changes are going to be explored over a five-part series of articles. You can read Part 1 here.
This article is Part 2 of the series.
Before we begin, I’m going to note that most of the changes I’m going to discuss could be thought of as extreme.
But extreme results oftentimes require extreme measures.
If you want to retire decades before most people, you’re probably going to have to operate way outside the norm. As you can probably already tell, this series isn’t going to be talking about just “cutting out the daily latte”.
So I’m going to show you, via real math, what the implications are to making these changes, and how these methods can lead to real and lasting wealth for anyone.
This real and lasting wealth can then be used to generate the passive income necessary to quit your job and live life on your terms.
So if you’re serious about retiring early – I mean, really serious – consider implementing some of these real money-saving ideas in your own personal budget, which could substantially speed up retirement.
Money-Saving Method #2: Stop Spending So Much On Transportation
As I recounted in my recent series on how I retired in my early 30s, I found that I was spending $500 per month (all in) on my car back in 2009.
Transportation is one of what I call the “big three”: housing, transportation, and food.
I call these three spending categories the “big three” because they generally account for the vast majority of the average person’s spending. If one can attack these three categories and get them efficiently optimized, the savings rate should shoot through the roof.
That’s why this series doesn’t concentrate on talking about the “daily latte”.
I’ve saved well over 50% of my net income for many years now, yet I’ve never focused too much on the little things. The little things take care of themselves once you focus on the big things.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the average consumer unit spends about $9,500 per year on transportation.
So I was doing better than average, even before I started aggressively cutting my spending and focusing on early retirement.
However, we have to do way better than average if we’re going to retire way earlier than average.
Retiring years or decades earlier than most people doesn’t happen because you’re doing a little better than average in your spending. You really have to aggressively attack spending in order to generate the excess capital necessary to invest as much and as often to provide the passive income that will be enough to eclipse your spending at a young age.
The lower your spending, the more money you have to invest. And the less you spend, the less passive income that you’ll need in order to cover your bills.
It all works together.
Let’s just do some quick math here.
The average consumer unit is spending $9,500 per year on transportation.
I’m going to assume that you could take that money and invest it, achieving 8% compound annual returns (which isn’t a high bar to clear – it’s well below the average return of the stock market over the long run) over 20 years. You start from zero. And I’ll ignore taxes and inflation for the sake of brevity.
Using those assumptions, you’d end up with almost $470,000 after 20 years. Again, that’s starting from zero.
We’re talking half a million dollars… for transportation?
Of course, this number is assuming that one is saving and investing all of the money that would, on average, be otherwise directed toward transportation.
As such, my best tip for this category is to stop driving altogether. Don’t own a car. Don’t drive. Spend almost nothing on transportation.
You heard me right.
I’m saying our auto-centric culture here in the United States is literally killing us.
We have to work longer and harder just to pay for the wheels that gets us to the job that earns us the money to pay for the wheels.
It’s a cycle of craziness. Aliens from another planet would be looking at us and scratching their heads (if they had heads).
And driving isn’t good for our health. Not only is it eliminating more time outside, where we’d be likely walking or biking, but car accidents are one of the single largest causes of death in this country.
Part 1 of this series talked about eating PB&J sandwiches. People might claim that’s not the healthiest way to eat. But they’ll then get in a 3,000-pound hunk of steel and hurl themselves around at 70 miles per hour. It’s nonsensical.
I sold my car back in 2011. And I’ve been largely car-free ever since.
I currently do not own a car. And I have zero plans to ever own a car again for the rest of my life.
You might say: “It’s impossible to live without a car outside of five or six major US cities.”
I live in Sarasota, Florida. It’s a city of about 50,000 people. We have no rail.
But I get by. I’m just thoughtful about where I live and where I go. I’m purposeful in the way I plan and live my life.
And that’s how early retirement is achieved, guys. You have to be purposeful and thoughtful about it.
I believe almost every city in the United States has some public transportation.
Use it. Take advantage of it. And when you need to get somewhere it doesn’t go, be creative. Walk. Ride a bike. Or take an Uber. Or get a small scooter that costs less than $1,000 and achieves 100 miles per gallon of gas.
I spend $1.25 per bus ride here in Sarasota. I spent less than $20 on transportation last month.
And that’s a big reason why my real-life, real-money portfolio is well into the six figures.
Keep in mind that the major reason a lot of people need a car in the first place is to trot down to their day job. Once you can kick the job, you don’t need to drive so often. This makes using public transportation even easier.
So try not to get sucked into the cycle where you’re spending just to work, and working just to spend.
Think about your money. And then your money will think about you.
That’s it for today.
Keep an eye out for the third article, which is coming soon!
— Jason Fieber