How To Retire Early: Habits of the Wildly Wealthy

how to retire early

The truth is…wealthy people don’t retire.

It’s time to retire the American notion of retirement. Maybe you came here because you’re looking to stop working and live out your days on a beach. It could be that you feel like you’re not designed for the “typical 9-5.” Yet an early retirement isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and most people believe it’s the only way out of the rat race. 

Yet early retirement can wreak havoc on your finances. When every day is a Saturday, as is the case in retirement, you’re far more likely to spend your money. And what happens when you run out? After all, in a true retirement, you’re not earning an income to replace what you spend.

We believe that it’s time to reconsider retirement altogether. So we’ve got an even better proposition…

What if you had a career that you didn’t have to retire from, what would your life look like then? The retirement mindset typically follows the logic, “I’ll work this job because I have to, until I can stop and do what I want to do.” We believe that if you find something you love doing right now, you’ll never feel obligated to retire in order to live the life of your dreams. 

Replacing Early Retirement With Wealth Habits for Success

We say, throw away the notion that retirement is freedom. Instead, live that freedom right now. Most wealthy people don’t plan to retire until at least 70—not because they have to keep working, but because they want to. This also positively impacts their wealth. Studies show that people are earning more money in their 60s (or beyond) than they have in previous decades. As we say in Busting the Retirement Lies, do what you love for as long as you can—and keep creating prosperity!

While we know that an early retirement is an attractive idea to many, we can’t in good conscience recommend it as a Prosperous choice. We can, however, guide you towards habits that many of the ultra-wealthy have established. And in doing so, encourage you to be as successful as we know you can be, doing something that brings you joy.

Wealth Habit #1: Save Systematically

Saving is the most basic wealth habit there is—earning more than you spend is the keystone to wealth building. And the wealthy prioritize this. Don’t wait to see what’s leftover at the end of the month, which often leads to unchecked spending. 

Instead, systematize your saving and make it a habit. There are plenty of ways to do so effectively, without lifting a finger. Fill out a direct deposit form so that some money goes to savings, and the rest to your checking account. Utilize cash value life insurance as a savings vehicle, and think of your premiums like automatic savings. 

By creating an automatic system, you can effectively build up value without the temptation to spend.

Wealth Habit #2: Know What You Spend

The biggest myth of the ultra-wealthy is that they can spend their money on a whim, with no consideration for cost. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The wealthy are wealthy because they pay precise attention to the money flowing in and out. 

Their spending is neither frivolous or unconscious—it’s intentional, and aligns with their values. Waste is not considered a virtue, despite Hollywood tropes. In order to reach millionaire status, one is all but required to be conscious about money, and that doesn’t change once you “cross the finish line.” There’s no line to cross! It’s a carefully curated habit, and those don’t just disappear.

Those who become wealthy without these carefully established habits often end up blowing through their funds quickly.

According to The Millionaire Next Door, wealthy people often comparison shop, repair rather than purchase new, and buy things “out of season” to get the best price. And that spending is tracked meticulously—especially considering many of the wealthy are entrepreneurs. They have to track business expenses against personal ones! 

If you find yourself wondering where your money goes… this is an essential habit to adopt! 

Wealth Habit #3: Take Calculated Risks

If you consider yourself a lifelong learner, a boundary-pusher, and a developer of new skills—you’ve got what it takes! These are more qualities that the wealthiest Americans have in common. They’re entrepreneurs, investors, and influencers. And all of these actions require risk, yet can also offer substantial rewards.

What the wealthy DON’T do is gamble! According to Money Crashers, only 6% of wealthy people ever play the lottery, compared with 77% of those with low-income. For the poor, the lottery is a way to get “lucky.” It’s based in hope, and the odds are against them. A Prosperity Mindset is based in the knowledge that positive actions, habits, and thoughts create opportunities for good things to happen.

Wealth Habit #4: Opportunities Not Problems

Problems are things to be solved, not insurmountable road blocks or a license to complain. When a problem arises, resist the temptation to dig in to self-pity. Instead, look for the opportunity that arises from the problem.

When the nation began lockdown in early 2020, the most successful people and businesses were the ones who could “pivot” and meet the new reality. Rather than complaining, they overhauled systems practically overnight—hosting online classes and lessons, offering delivery services, manufacturing new products, and finding new ways to make a living.

Businesses exist to solve problems, and to meet needs. And businesses that have learned to see the shifting needs of their clientele have not only survived, but thrived in 2020. It is said that the average millionaire has seven streams of income. That’s because rather than getting bogged down in a problem, they see it as an opportunity to solve a problem.

Wealth Habit #5: Prioritize Wellness

Health and wellness, according to many studies, seem to be a priority for the ultra-wealthy. Thomas Corley, author of Rich Habits, Poor Habits, notes that the wealthy are more likely to keep junk food at bay. This can be impacted by education, better access to fresh food, or a bigger food budget—though it’s not impossible. 

Coupled with healthy eating, successful people are also more likely to maintain a more active lifestyle. Thomas Stanley and William Danko of The Millionaire Next Door, found that wealthier people exercised more than 3 hours per week. And Corley reports that 76% of wealthy folks do aerobic exercise at least four days per week, compared to 23% of low income people.

Wealth Habit #6: Daily Morning Success Rituals

On average, high-income people wake up earlier than others—around 6 AM. This often equates to about 3 hours of time before the workday, if not more. Robin Sharma, who mentors business leaders, has a “5 AM Club” (and a book by the same name).

These extra hours before the work day provide time for planning, prayer, meditation, reading, and exercise. What successful people don’t do when they wake up is check their emails. Start your day purely for yourself, and set the tone with some of the activities above. Only then should you look at the requests and demands of others.  

Wealth Habit #7: Be Intentional

You are the master of your day. The most successful people are the ones who are mindful of how they spend their time, and you have that power too. Find a system that works for you and provides you the space to work with intention. A time blocking system we recommend is Dan Sullivan’s Entrepreneurial Time System

The successful are also mindful of their time in other ways. They minimize time spent on social media, reduce their television time, and often outsource any busy work that they don’t enjoy. By freeing up your time, you can focus more on income-generating activities AND personal ones. 

And even better—when you live your life with intention, you won’t feel the need to retire early! You’ll be doing precisely what you want and intend to do, right now.

Wealth Habit #8: Be a Lifelong Learner

Tom Bilyeu transformed his life from lazy underperformer to CEO of Quest Nutrition, a billion dollar company, and Impact Theory, a show that interviews top authors, business people and thought leaders. Tom credits his shift to Carol Dweck’s work on Growth Mindset. Tom was freed from the mindset that he could only do one thing, forever, realizing that he could continuously expand his skills, talents, and knowledge.

And if you’re hoping to learn how to retire early, you’ve probably been inclined to believe that what you’re doing now has to be your reality until age 65. How freeing to realize that you’re never limited in what you can learn and how you can adapt and grow. There’s never been a better time than right now to learn a new skill and follow your passion!

Often, this learning is facilitated through reading. The average millionaire reads for at least 30 minutes a day, reports Corley. The most common books and reading materials they consume center around current events, business, personal development, and biographies of other successful people. Other learning can be facilitated through online courses on platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, or even YouTube.

Wealth Habit #9: Own Your Results

Take Responsibility. Be a self-starter. It’s time to light a fire in yourself, and own your mindset, your actions, and the results you produce. When, and only when, you can take responsibility for the things you directly control, will success begin to come effortlessly.

Successful people own their actions, and they aren’t concerned with who gets the credit. Instead, they shift their focus to what they are accomplishing and the impact it will have. And when you can own your results, we think that passion and Prosperity follow. And with those, who needs retirement, early or otherwise? 

Wealth Habit #10: Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

The people you surround yourself will have a direct and sizeable influence on your life. If you’re success-driven and passionate, surrounding yourself with others who are the same will inspire you. In fact, it may even launch you into greater opportunities. Yet when you spend time with those who don’t share these same values, you may find yourself in quite the opposite situation. 

Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Wealth Habit #11: Give Back

It is a gift to be able to give. And many people think that unless they have money, they have nothing to give. Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s actually an indicator of a scarcity mindset—the mindset that we don’t have enough, which tends to hinder generosity. And on the flip side, generosity is part of a Prosperity Mindset.

The Prosperous give of their “time, treasures and talents” to help others. You could interpret this as volunteering at a church, mentoring at-risk youth, tutoring others, or even donating clothes that no longer fit. Don’t believe that your contributions need only be monetary.

And by creating habits of generosity, you can actually learn to manage your resources more effectively. Time, money, and knowledge are all resources to be tracked and used. Learn to manage them through service.

How To Retire Early? Don’t Retire. Build a Life Worth Living Now.

Our hope is that rather than hoping to quit working and live out the rest of your days on a beach somewhere, the life you want to live feels within your reach. The habits we’ve listed are ones that you can practice now and use to infuse your life with passion and purpose.

What habits on this list do you already practice? Which ones are you working on? What would you add? Building wealth starts with these habits, and the success you desire will be sure to follow! 

If you’re ready to make a career shift to something you’re more passionate about, read our previous article on working from home. You can find any number of career directions to exit the rat race and become an entrepreneur (and nix the notion to retire).

And if you want to save and invest like the wealthy…reach out to a Prosperity Economics™ Advisor today. Anyone in our community of like-minded advisors would be happy to help you establish savings habits, earn more on the money you save, optimize taxes, and escape the roller coaster ride of the stock market.

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