7 people who retired by age 45 reveal their top tips

Retiring early has become a dream of many 30-somethings. Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock
  • Retiring early is part of the dream for many Americans, but retiring by 45 or earlier takes discipline, rigorous saving, smart investing, and living frugally.
  • Seven retirees who have successfully retired by 45 share advice, and suggest taking up side hustles, communicating with your partner, and expecting the unexpected to make it work.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With one-fifth of Americans now working well past age 65, there’s an argument that retirement is farther away than ever.

With many more embracing the FIRE, (Financially Independent, Retire Early) movement, it’s becoming increasingly common for workers to put their corporate lives behind them and retire early. But, it takes more than traditional retirement savings to make it happen.

Below, seven early retirees share their top tips for getting to early retirement, living out of their savings for years, and generating income when retired.

It’s not about stockpiling money — it’s about growing that money

Making your money grow is critical to saving for retirement, even when retiring early. 1Day Review/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

After retiring at 37, Chris Reining decided that it wasn’t all about rounding up as much cash as you can in a savings account – rather, he decided that he wanted to make his money grow.

“Maybe having a mountain of cash helps you sleep at night. That’s fine,” he writes for Business Insider. “However, if the money was invested in the stock market where the average return for all 30-year periods is about 10%, a single $US25,000 investment can grow to $US400,000.”

He cites opportunity costs as a big source of losses among those retiring young. He asks: “Doesn’t that difference of $US375,000 seem like an enormous price to pay?”

Keep earning through a side hustle

Taking up blogging can help generate passive income. Westend61/Getty Images

When blogger and Business Insider contributor JP Livingston retired at 28 after a seven-year career in corporate finance, she decided that it wouldn’t necessarily mean that she couldn’t keep earning.

She put lots of time into her blog, and has ended up seeing big returns from it.

“It became a passive income stream sort of by accident. In its first full year it made $US62,326 with only five hours of writing a week,” she writes. While it’s not time-consuming, it does add significantly to her income.

Having this income has allowed her to have a little bit more flexibility and have an above-average retirement income.

Know that retiring early won’t solve all of your problems

Retiring early might not fix your burnout. Cecilie_Arcurs/Getty Images

Carl Jensen retired at 43, and has some regrets about the paths leading to that opportunity.

He found that by having a goal to retire, he got too pulled into the things he was doing to make money, as well as his job. He writes for GOBankingRates that while flipping houses built a good portion of the wealth that made it possible to retire, he found it exhausting and lost valuable time with family.

“It’s important to know that early retirement will likely solve some of your problems, but it probably won’t change your baseline level of happiness,” he writes.

To him, retirement isn’t a problem-solver. “If you want to retire early because you’re running away from something, you’re doing it for the wrong reason,” he says.

Realise that your life will change dramatically once you retire


Grant Sabatier retired at 30, and realises that while he’s enjoyed it, it’s much different than he thought.

“It can get lonely. Some days I miss the camaraderie of hanging out with my old team or clients,” he writes on his blog,Millennial Money. It’s something that a 30-something in the workforce would take for granted.

“But I also can’t remember a time when I’ve slept better or felt more rested or calm,” he continues. While it’s a trade-off, it’s one that affects everyone differently.

Consider scaling down your housing to reduce costs

Living frugally in a small apartment or condo makes retiring early easier. Pawel Wewiorski

For retired 30-something schoolteachers Joe and Ali Olson, travelling the world is totally possible when you live on a budget and stay frugal.

Along with choosing to base themselves somewhere with a low cost of living, they made strategic choices that allowed them to live on just $US20,000 per year. “We kept driving the same cars… We also ate at home, a lot. Eating out was rare, and a treat,” Joe told Business Insider in 2017.

By choosing to live in a modest 416-square-foot condo in an affordable area, they were able to purchase rental properties and generate income, even while only taking in about $US80,000 a year combined.

Get on the same page as your partner

You’ll have to be on the same page to make it work. Yummy pic/Shutterstock

Having money conversations with your partner is always an essential part of marriage, but when one person wants to retire early, it’s an even more important conversation.

Brandon of early retirement blog Mad Fientist had this discussion with his wife when he realised that he wanted to retire early. While his wife didn’t want the same thing, they found ways to make both of their dreams happen.

Brandon’s wife Jill told Business Insider’s Tanza Loudenback,“We both were in agreement about where our priorities were and what we would like to spend more time doing – spending time with friends and family, travelling, volunteering, and all those kinds of things.”

While she’s ultimately decided to keep her job and her own finances, having this conversation early on in the journey and being on the same page made Brandon’s early retirement possible.

Your early retirement doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s

RV life can cut living expenses down for early retirees. Bruce Gifford / Contributor

Steve and Courtney Adcock took up unconventional living when they retired at 35 and 33, respectively. They moved into an Airstream trailer they bought, and have been retired and mobile since.

Steve credits their RV lifestyle with creating a way to live on very little, even though they have lots saved. “This life can be almost as cheap as we want it to be. Seriously, our rent can be 100% free if we need it to be,” he wrote on his blog Save Think Retire.

They say they have intentionally set up a system where they can be off-grid for long periods of time, allowing them to explore remote areas and have adventures in daily life.