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, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.
This article is Part 4 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 #4: Stop Spending So Much On Television
I don’t have cable TV at home. Haven’t had it for years.
Guess how much I miss it?
Not. At. All.
I have a digital connection to my local channels (NBC, ABC, etc.) as part of my Internet access package.
But I couldn’t tell you what’s playing on TNT or Comedy Central… even if you paid me.
Nor do I care.
I’m too busy reading, writing, hitting the beach, and doing other (free!) things I really enjoy – consider it all part of the decades-long party that awaits a person who’s able to retire extremely early.
Indeed, I was able to essentially retire at 33 years old. And I didn’t get there by spending a bunch of time and money on TV.
A recent FCC study showed that the average American spends $64.41 per month for expanded basic cable.
Let’s run some quick numbers on that.
We’ll assume that you cut your cable tomorrow, save that $64.41 per month, and invest the savings at an 8% compound annual return for 20 years (ignoring taxes and inflation for brevity). Since the stock market averages a long-term rate of return above that figure, I’m actually using a fairly conservative estimate.
That $64.41 per month seems like a trivial expense, but it actually turns into over $38,000 (using the assumptions described above).
Is watching reruns of some legal procedure drama really worth $38,000?
I think not.
And we’re not talking just money here.
Recent Nielsen reports indicate that the average American spends four and a half hours a day watching television.
Four and a half hours? That’s practically a job!
Except this job doesn’t pay. You pay!
Just imagine what kind of productivity you’re missing out on by spending all that time watching television. This is productivity that could you that much closer to early retirement.
I’ll tell you what I did with my four and a half hours per day all the way up to my early retirement.
I spent that time educating myself on investing. I learned how to analyze companies and read financial statements. I read voraciously, improving myself as a person.
And then I spent those hours writing articles on how to save and invest so that others could follow my blueprint and potentially escape from the rat race decades before others.
So I’d say I quite literally changed my life with that time that I would have otherwise spent watching… South Park?
And the money also quite literally changed my life.
I was able to save that $60+ per month and invest it in high-quality dividend growth stocks.
The resulting real-life portfolio that’s now worth well over 1/4 of a million dollars is proof in the pudding, folks.
So what’s my advice here?
My advice is to cut cable television.
I’m not saying to just reduce your package. I’m saying to eliminate it altogether.
The money can then be used to intelligently invest in high-quality investments that will help you retire at a young enough age to actually enjoy all that life has to offer.
Once you do cut the cord, you’ll naturally find yourself spending far less time watching television.
And then you can use that newfound time to improve yourself, educate yourself, and learn about yourself.
After all, you’ll find yourself with a ton of free time once you’re actually retired. And so you should have a good idea of what you actually enjoy doing. No time like the present to learn that.
Or you could use that four and a half hours per day to get a (second) job that pays you, which could speed up your journey to retirement that much more.
That’s essentially what I did. I used my free time to write and help others, which had a way of financially rewarding me (even though that’s not what I set out for). And it helped me to get in a position to be able to retire in my early 30s.
Think about your money. And then your money will think about you.
— Jason Fieber