In the next 3021 days or so I will writing the practical guide to “retiring” in 5 years with a nest egg sufficient to cover all your living expenses. I am semi-confident that it will possible to make all the necessary lifestyle changes within one month if we drop all pretense of a smooth transition and allow for some mistakes along the way. So if you don’t mind roughing it, it is my posit that in 3021 days you could be fully underway to retiring from job-income. I expect it will take about 1 year after that to master the essentials and 5 years of sustained effort to reach the goal. After all, I did it!

I reckon that those who will succeed in this are those who from one day to the next can proclaim: “Okay, I will not eat candy bars again” and actually not eat candy bars again(*). It is the people that can lose 50 pounds and stay there without yoyoing. It is those who can commit to a challenge and not give up. This requires strength of character and deliberate creative action more than it requires tips, talent, or luck. It is, therefore, much like running a marathon.

(*) The candy bar example is just a silly example. When I was 18 or 19, I actually decided to avoid eating sweets and cakes. I did not eat any candy for 2 years and I did not eat any cake for 4 years. But when I was 24 I decided that I never wanted a mortgage, and … the rest is, as you say, history.

Don’t worry 😎 . There will be no cutting back in this program. Instead things will be cut away completely 😛 . Trust me on this one: It is much easier to deal psychologically with not having access at all compared to having restricted access. Restricted access only serves as a constant reminder of what you are missing. No access on the other hand changes your priorities and values and soon those are seen as the ideal state and your previous state is seen as something undesirable.

There won’t be any small baby steps either. Although it is of course strictly up to people to adopt what they want, I favor an all or nothing, that is, an extreme approach. A Blitz Krieg of shock and awe if you will. Attacking full force on several points leads to synergy. For example, I will be recommending commuting by bicycle. I will also recommend getting in shape to save on heating costs and medical bills. These two fit together and they will fit with others things, and so on. If you do one, you get the others for free. If you are only willing to do either one but not all, you will still have to spend time on the other one in some form thus wasting effort. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

I won’t waste any time on virtual dollar savings. Virtual savings is one of my new pet peeves. Virtual dollar savings are the kind of “savings” that are not really savings such as paying $10 for something that supposedly costs $20. It is the kind of “savings” that represents money you can choose not to spend in the first place such as latte-money. I’ll give you an absolute number: The goal here is to cut your expense level to <$10,000/year/adult. I live on $6000/year/adult. It can be done.

To make the change, you need to do three things.

  1. If or when you have decided to commit, start immediately. The “I’ll go on a diet, starting next year” has never worked. Feel free to take your time thinking it over and build some commitment. Don’t commit on the spur of the moment, but don’t wait until the excitement has gone away either.
  2. Make yourself accountable. Different people are motivated by different things. If you honor your word, you can make a public statement (feel free to use the comment section below). Obviously you should not use something that is counterproductive to your goal such as spending money to celebrate meeting your savings goal, duh!
  3. No exceptions! No exceptions! No exceptions! Exceptions are self-destructive in so many ways.

I have a list of the first 21 days made out. I figure I will give it a week or so to see how popular this series is and continue if it takes off.

Anyone ready to commit already? 🙂

Jacob comments:

Actually I’m aiming for $6000/person/year. $10k was just the closest round number 😉

Originally posted 2008-12-08 17:04:10.