How to Retire Early

Dear DTA, 

I’d like to retire early. Definitely before 50. Maybe 40, if possible. I’m 30 now. My job is killing me. What should I do?

-Tom M. 

Hi, Tom.

Great to hear from you. Thanks so much for taking the time to write to us.

You have a fantastic question.

And I might just be the perfect person to answer it.

I was once in a very similar spot to the one you’re in now.

I was in my late 20s when I realized that I couldn’t continue to spend most of my waking hours at a job I didn’t like.

Life is way too short for that. And time is our most valuable resource, Tom. We can always make more money. But we cannot make more time.

This is why the concept of early retirement is so appealing.

If we can eliminate a miserable job from our lives, we can fill that time with pursuits we enjoy.

However, you first must achieve financial independence.

You can’t walk into your boss’s office and quit without first having enough income from other sources to sustain yourself.

When you pair financial independence with retiring early, you get FIRE (financial independence/retire early).

And there’s nothing quite like a job you don’t like to fill your belly with the motivational fire you need to attain FIRE.

Use your disdain for your job as the fuel for your FIRE. 

I personally achieved FIRE at only 33 years old.

At 28 years old, not long after being laid off during the depths of the financial crisis, I decided to get in my act in gear and develop enough passive income to live off of.

I was working ~60 hours per week at a car dealership.

And I was only making about $40,000 per year.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out how to make it work.

And I wanted FIRE with my entire being, Tom.

It sounds like you do, too.

With that in mind, please read through my Early Retirement Blueprint.

It details exactly how I went from below broke at 27 years old to financially independent and retired at only 33.

Yes.

I retired in only six years.

From start to finish.

Now, I had to get pretty brutal with the lifestyle.

It was a “scorched earth” policy when it came to expenses. Every dollar I was spending was a dollar I wasn’t investing and putting toward FIRE. That made me scrutinize expenditures in a way I never did before.

Of course, it’s a short-term sacrifice for a long-term reward.

It’s not for everyone.

Again, you have to really want it.

The key, of course, is to build income that’s independent of any kind of job.

This is where passive income comes into play.

There are many types of passive income out there.

You’ll have to do the research and soul searching in order to find out what form works best for you.

However, I would put my hat in the ring for dividend income.

More specifically, growing dividend income.

I put my hard-earned savings into high-quality dividend growth stocks like those you’ll find on the Dividend Champions, Contenders, and Challengers list.

US stocks are one of the best asset classes out there.

And within that universe of US stocks, stocks that pay reliable and rising dividends tend to do better than the rest.

More importantly, growing dividend income is a phenomenal source of passive income.

Collecting a dividend requires no work on your part. 

Jason Fieber's Dividend Growth PortfolioNo 1-800 number to call. Nobody to deal with.

The money just gets deposited into your brokerage account.

It doesn’t get any easier than that!

I actually collect five-figure passive dividend income from my FIRE Fund.

That’s my real-money early retirement dividend growth stock portfolio.

I’m paid simply to exist, Tom.

No matter what I do, I earn a very solid income. Totally passively.

The Fund was built on the tenets of dividend growth investing.

This strategy is arguably the consummate strategy for financial independence and early retirement.

For more on why that is, as well as how to properly execute it, read through fellow contributor Dave Van Knapp’s Dividend Growth Investing Lessons.

His series is the A-Z of DGI.

If you decide that dividend growth investing is the best strategy to underpin your early retirement, we have you covered with some of the best long-term investment ideas out there.

For example, I helm the Undervalued Dividend Growth Stock of the Week series.

This weekly series offers a high-quality dividend growth stock investment idea every Sunday.

These ideas have to pass a number of hurdles as they relate to quality and valuation.

They’re some of the best dividend growth stock out there. And they appear undervalued at the time of publication.

When you have some capital to invest, these ideas are highly worthy of consideration.

Tom, I’m living a dream life.

I live abroad, in Thailand. My growing passive dividend income funds a wonderful lifestyle.

I get to do what I want, when I want.

It’s too good to pass up. You’ve already figured that out.

Undervalued Dividend Growth Stock of the Week by Jason FieberWell, this is possible for almost anyone out there, including you.

But there’s something you have to do, Tom.

You have to start.

And the best time to do that is right now.

So start today.

I wish you luck and success.

Jason Fieber

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Disclaimer: Jason Fieber is not a licensed financial advisor, tax professional, or stock broker. Please consult with a licensed investment professional before investing any of your money. If your money is not FDIC insured, it may decline in value. To protect the privacy of our readers, any names published in this article are under aliases. In addition, text may be edited, omitted or paraphrased for grammar or length.