Retirement. It seems like it’s forever away, doesn’t it? With all the bills and debt you’ve already accumulated, the idea of cashing in your chips and calling it a career could be an impossible dream.
But here’s the trick: Think like an entrepreneur, and start managing your life like it’s a successful business.
Try out these 8 tips that will help you do just that. You could even find yourself rocking retirement as soon as 10 years earlier than you would otherwise. Sweet, right?
1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt, So You Won’t Be Weighed Down
When you think about how much debt you have, you might feel a little anxious.
That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.
Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.
If your credit score is at least 620, you can borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.
Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $12,000 in credit card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $12,000 in interest.
If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.
So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.
2. Have a Sit-Down With Your Credit Score
If you want to retire early, your credit score is going to be a valuable tool. With a good credit score comes lower interest rates on loans, which means less money out of your pocket.
One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.
To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.
Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?
Your credit report will give you this information.
You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
3. Hope for the Best, but Plan for the Worst
A family tragedy can do more than just break hearts. Losing someone in your life can come with a large emotional, and even financial, burden.
You’re setting plans to retire early. Don’t let a tragedy get in the way. Make sure that you and your loved ones have life insurance policies in place. They protect those left behind so they can continue to live out their dreams.
A company like Policygenius offers you an easy way to compare and buy life insurance. Unlike traditional providers, this online-only platform provides an easy way to apply, and it offers instant quotes from top carriers online to help you make a quicker decision.
To get your quotes, you’ll just enter some info about yourself and your health online. Once you choose a life insurance company, you can apply right online, and a Policygenius rep will give you a quick call to ask a few follow-up questions.
If you’re young and mostly healthy, consider purchasing term life insurance online from Ethos. It partners with a major A-rated life insurance carrier to provide policies for a low price. For example, $30 a month could get your family $1 million of coverage.
It’s not fun to think about, but it’s a necessary step for your life plans.
4. Pad the Bottom Line With Passive Income
Passive income is awesome. It’s income that keeps rolling in without you having to do much on your end. Suh-weet.
One great way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. We found a company that helps you do just that.
Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.
Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.
This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (i.e. rent).
(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)
You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.
5. Bring Your Operating Costs Down
If you’re treating your life like a business, you need to keep your operating costs down, right? That means taking a hard look at your monthly bills and cutting unnecessary costs. Luckly, that’s easier to do now than ever.
Download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, TrueBill says it helps customers save more than $700 a year by lowering their bills, canceling necessary subscriptions and getting refunds.
And what about insurance on your wheels? For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?
Yes. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around car insurance,. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.
So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?
The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.
When you cut out excess spending on monthly bills, you can put more in your pocket and more toward retirement. It just got a little closer.
6. Invest Like a CEO, but With as Little as $5
You know that you should be investing, but how? “It takes money to make money” is what they always say. Well, if you want to start investing, it doesn’t take as much money as you’d think.
If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.
You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.
Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year!
At that rate, you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.
The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
You’ll be able to watch your investments grow as you get closer and closer to retirement. It’s okay. Show off your portfolio to the gang at the water cooler.
7. Give Your 401(k) a Pep Talk
For many people, a 401(k) account is their primary tool for retirement savings. That’s great. But if you want to retire early, you need to make sure it’s doing all it can for you.
If you’re saving for your retirement with a 401(k), awesome.
But when’s the last time you truly checked in on your account, adjusted your allocations, addressed any fees and all that other fun stuff?
Try using a robo-adviser to make sure your 401(k) is on track with your retirement goals. Blooom is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.
Your initial account checkup is free, and you can do it online in less than five minutes. This will help you get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many investment fees or if you have the appropriate amount of money invested in stocks versus bonds.
If you’re satisfied with the outcome of your initial checkup, great! If not, you can enroll in Blooom for $10 a month (Penny Hoarders get one month free). It’ll automatically adjust your 401(k) to best fit your needs all the way up to retirement.
8. Give Yourself Yearly Reviews
Now that you’ve made some smart moves to help put yourself in position to retire 10 years earlier than you otherwise could have, don’t just sit back and coast.
Like any good business, you need to review things at least once a year. Where can you cut back? Can you put a little more into your investments?
You’re the CEO of your life. Start acting like it, and watch the bottom line get bigger and better with time.
So… what will you do with an extra 10 years of free time?
Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at Codetic.