Curious About How to Retire Early?
Helpful conversations to get you started
Is the idea of working until you’re 75 making you twitch? If you’d rather travel, spend time with your family or volunteer your time, you’re not alone.
Retirement means different things to different people—and there’s no one right or wrong way to approach it. Regardless of your reasons, being able to retire early starts with making a plan.
Capital One® money coaches Mira Megs Lathrop and Carmen Sullo shared their views on what retirement means to them. And some thoughts to help turn your dream of early retirement into a sustainable action plan.
Meet the Money Coaches
Mira Megs Lathrop
Mira is the co-creator of the Money Coaching program at Capital One. She developed the program with experienced designers and helped it grow to more than 25 money coaches across the country. She was a financial advisor for 10 years with a leading financial services company, and she is a certified financial planner and a Certified Money Coach (CMC)®. Mira is a pioneer in bridging psychology and money, people and capital, and transforming people’s relationship with money.
Carmen’s background in IT leadership for financial services companies was her jumping-off point into professional and personal leadership coaching. Working with small businesses, community leaders, and women and family networks, she cultivates authenticity in leadership and relationships. Coaching helps clients break through barriers of fear and self-doubt and write their own personal success stories.
Money Coaches Q&A
What Does Early Retirement Mean?
Carmen: Retirement means different things to different people. To some people, it means still working—but on their own terms. Or choosing a nontraditional income source, like travel blogging. To others, it’s a more traditional definition, like retiring at 65 and leaving the workforce to stay home, travel or spend time with family.
Why Retire Early?
Mira: The reasons for wanting early retirement are as varied as the individuals who are retiring. There are, however, recurring themes:
- Finding fulfillment in life outside the workforce: More and more people today want to retire early from a traditional job so they can do the thing they are most passionate about. Often they turn that passion into an income source as well.
- A life event, often medically related, that causes a moment of clarity: Some people have a medical emergency or situation that reminds them that life is short. This realization can trigger the desire to retire earlier than they may have initially planned.
- Social media sharing from others that creates possibilities: Seeing other people enjoying their retirement life through personal stories or social media posts can show possibilities that may not have been considered.
- Forced retirement from employer: Some companies are using early retirement as a way to cut back on their workforce. This can be an opportunity to step back and decide how you want to spend your life now that it isn’t all about work.
How Do You Get Started Saving for Early Retirement?
Carmen: For a truly customized plan, meet with a financial expert early. She can help you create a mock budget. This budget will help you determine how much money you’ll need, potential income and investment sources. You’ll also plan for medical insurance, taxes and emergencies.
What Is Most Important to Consider When Planning for Early Retirement?
Mira: Successful retirement planning requires the right relationship with money. And understanding the pathway to your goals will most likely not be a straight line. People ask all the time how much they should save. I answer with, “How do you want to live?”
Before you can have a plan for saving for retirement, you should first visualize your retirement life and define what it means to you. Your vision of retirement determines how much money you’ll need.
How Is Early Retirement Today Different From in the Past?
Mira: There’s been a paradigm shift in how people approach retirement. The old thinking was to sacrifice today so you’ll have money to live well later. The new way of thinking about retirement is finding a way to live your best life while you’re planning for your future.
There are many alternatives for living smaller today—tiny houses, community housing and granny pods. And more options for alternative income sourcing are available today, like travel blogging, remote working and flex time. Depending on what’s most important to you—whether it’s security, family, freedom or flexibility—you can model and adjust your retirement plan around your lifestyle needs.
What Are the Pitfalls to Reaching Your Retirement Goals?
Mira: The biggest pitfall can be that you get too attached to what you thought you’d do. And get derailed when that doesn’t happen.
If, for example, you thought you’d have your home paid off by the time you’re 40, but you’re 39 and that goal isn’t attainable, you shouldn’t panic or overreact. There are many paths to retirement—you just need to adjust your way.
What Are the Best Applications or Tools for Budgeting?
Carmen: When people ask for my recommendations for online tools and apps, I always say, “The one you’ll actually use.” What other apps or online tools do you use? Why do they appeal to you? Do you like to get badges or trophies when you achieve a goal? If so, find an app that does that. If you like drop-down menus and quick, easy updating, that’s the kind of budgeting tool you should look for.
What If You’re Ready but Your Bank Account Isn’t?
Carmen: If you can’t get to full retirement as soon as you’d like, there are ways to begin living your retirement life in small steps, without quitting your day job.
If you want to help people—and that’s why you want to retire early—consider volunteering after work or on weekends. If your goal is to travel, make a list of all the places you want to go. Plan small trips for your vacations. If your retirement plan is to start your own business—doing something you’re passionate about—start it sooner on a smaller scale.
What Happens If Your Spouse Wants to Retire and You Aren’t Ready?
Carmen: This comes up a lot. When one person is ready to retire and the other isn’t, it can be challenging. One person may be older than the other—or just have a different work situation or mindset.
Enter this phase with clear communication and expectations. Set individual goals of what retirement means. Then set goals as a couple, and find a balance between them.
Jump-Start Your Early Retirement
Whether you’re ready to retire, planning for retirement or just daydreaming about the possibilities, the coaches say these tips can help put your retirement plan in motion:
- Define what retirement means to you.
- Visualize what your retirement life looks like.
- Create a mock budget.
- Make a plan, but be flexible and adaptable.
- Set individual goals as well as couple goals, if applicable.
- Remember to balance quality of life today with saving for your future.
To help you get started, Capital One offers free money-coaching sessions with trained professionals like Mira and Carmen. You won’t need to bring in bank statements or tax records. Instead, you’ll talk about what inspires you, what you dream about and what makes you feel alive.
Schedule your session today.