How to Retire at 30 Without Winning the Lottery

Most of us dream about retiring early and living a long, happy life with complete financial security doing what we love. But can that be done without winning the lottery or getting millions from selling your dotcom?

The answer is yes, according to Mister Money Mustache, who's living proof that one can retire at 30 years old after working regular jobs with regular salaries.

In an interview with Kelly Johnson of The Washington Post, he told us how he did it:

Embrace challenge and shun convenience for its own sake. Ask, “Will this really make me happier in the long run?” about all life decisions. Realize that happiness comes from accomplishment and personal growth, rather than from luxury products. Seek out voluntary discomfort as a way to become stronger, rather than running from it. Develop a healthy sense of self-mockery, and acknowledge that you are a wimp in many ways right now (and only by acknowledging it can you improve). Practice optimism. And of course, ride a bike.

That’s pretty high-level stuff. If you just want the meat and potatoes: Live close to work. Cook your own food. Take care of your own house, garden, hair and body. Don’t borrow money for cars, and don’t drive ridiculous ones. Embrace nature as the best source of recreation. Cancel your TV service. Use a prepaid cellphone. And of course, ride a bike!

He wrote on his blog MrMoneyMustache:

For almost two years, I’ve been preaching a different brand of financial advice from what you see in the newspapers and magazines. The standard line is that life is hard and expensive, so you should keep your nose to the grindstone, clip coupons, save hard for your kids’ college educations, and save any tiny slice of your salary that remains into a 401(k) plan. And pray that nothing goes wrong in the 40 years of career work that it will take to get yourself enough savings to enjoy a brief retirement.

Mr. Money Mustache’s advice? Almost all of that is nonsense: Your current middle-class life is an Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness, and by learning to see the truth in this statement, you will easily be able to cut your expenses in half – leaving you saving half of your income. Or two thirds, or more.

Links: MrMoneyMustache Blog | Interview at The Washington Post


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The average household income in my county is $21,195. I guess you could save half of that somehow, but having any savings at all would make a family ineligible for food stamps and Medicaid, which would be hard if you're trying to live on $11K a year. And it still wouldn't be enough to fund a 50 year retirement.
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This won't work for everyone:
"But then what do I do with all the money?

You invest it. In stock index funds, in paying off your own house, in rental houses if you are interested in local real estate, and in other sources as you continue to learn about making money work for you. My own retirement income comes from a dead-simple asset allocation: one high-end rental house with no mortgage, and some 401(k) and taxable stock accounts which pay quarterly dividends. More recently I have started experimenting with peer-to-peer lending for higher returns on a small percentage of the portfolio, but that’s another story."
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Great! and, I fear, too late for me. It's the spouse- and family thing as mentioned in the article. The wife would never willingly get on board with the whole program of Mr. Money Mustache. Oh, the money I have wasted: collecting CDs (as a teen) as if I'd one day have an oldies/classic rock radio station; falling for the pitch for always-and-everywhere mobile data connection; now building a new house to be filled with expensive furniture adhering to a sense of style, mostly because of what a house and its furnishings "ought to" look like. (Same for the car.) I just want a camera and a bicycle. However, I can say that, now that we're in the new house, we have been able to go without subscription TV, and I've downgraded my mobile phone to pre-paid. Feels good.
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