I realized several years ago what happiness in life is truly about. True happiness is not about the cars we drive or stuff we have. Salaries do not matter. Income, in general, does not matter. What matters is what you are doing NOW to benefit your life LATER. Will your future self love or hate you in 10 years?

Screw this! I am retiring at 36, and here is howMy Financial Independence date: December, 2016 – at the latest!

I am 34 years old and have decided to retire with my wife by 40 36.  No more full-time job.  No more status reports or presentations.  No more 8-hour days of anything other than what I choose to do with my time (hello photography!).  How do I plan on retiring in 1 to 2 years?

For me, it’s a simple 6-step program:

  • Downsize the “stuff” – I have already sold my 1999 Corvette Convertible, which was a completely unnecessary car, along with our Ridgeline.  My wife and I have cut our cable service down to the basic package and may eliminate it entirely in the near future.  We have Good Will’ed old clothes and gadgets, tools and general clutter.  No more pack rat-ish activities in this household!  I took inventory of my home and anything that wasn’t used during that month got donated.
    • Savings: Thousands in insurance and maintenance costs for the car, and far fewer items to store and keep safe.
  • Ride a motorcycle – I ride a motorcycle as much as I can.  With my car, I was filling up almost weekly for about $40 to $50 a pop.  Now, I fill up my bike weekly for less than $8 bucks.
    • Savings: Hundreds on fuel and lets the side of me that likes a little heart-pounding adrenaline have a little fun, on the cheap!
  • Eliminated my commute – I quit my job as a Director of Information Technology and took a work-from-home position.  No more expensive commutes or wasting time sitting in traffic.
    • Savings: Hundreds of dollars monthly in fuel and maintenance costs, not to mention re-gained time to do what I enjoy.
  • Save, Save, Save – I have maxed out my retirement plan through my company and my wife and I live entirely off of my salary.  Ditto on my wife’s retirement plan and she also devotes her entire remaining salary to our investment portfolio.
    • Savings: More than $80,000 every year in total investment and retirement account saving.
  • Frugal lifestyle – No more expensive dinners (except when they are paid for!).  No more big screen televisions or blowing hundreds of dollars on the latest cell phones.  We consciously turn off lights in the house and conserve energy whenever possible, which includes doing laundry during non-peek hours of the day, minimizing dish washer use and keeping the heater at 68 degrees in the winter and air conditioner at almost 80 in the summer.
    • Savings: Several thousand yearly in reduced energy and useless entertainment costs.
  • Focus on the prize! – This blog is one way that I stay focused on retirement and keep my motivation high and mind honed in on the ultimate goal of quitting the rat race by the age of 40. Staying positive is critical, especially during those times where you might want to splurge.  I keep asking myself if another year of working for a living is worth that shiny new “thing”.
    • Savings: Infinite, as focusing on the prize helps ensure I never relapse back into my old self.

Once you make the intelligent decision to retire early, your life changes almost instantly.  You no longer focus on “stuff”.  You soon realize what true happiness is all about and how powerful an optimistic attitude can be in leading you down the right path.  Optimism is the foundation on which success grows.

If you are ready to put a stop to your days of working for a living, welcome to the club.  Read through these pages, comment where you like, and start to truly enjoy life’s virtues.

Believe it or not, most of life’s virtues are not “bought”.

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