Many people may dream about early retirement, but only a handful ever take steps to make the fantasy a reality.
Businessman Llew Jury is the exception. At 39 years old, he’s the managing director of successful digital media company Reload Media. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s also three years into a 14-year retirement plan that will see him leave regular work at 50 years of age – around 10 years earlier than his peers.
Bearing out the truism that most people who are successful enough to retire early aren’t usually the type who want to quit work, Mr Jury hankers after the freedom to expand into new ventures. He and his business partner created Reload in 2008 with an explicit exit strategy to ensure that they were both financially prepared to pursue different projects when the time was right.
“I have a lot to offer, but there is a lifespan for a managing director,” Mr Jury says. “At 50, you’re still young. You can do more entrepreneurial things.”
Mr Jury’s blueprint for financial independence consists of two key principles:
Get your personal life in order
Superannuation is an important part of the plan – but because you can’t access your funds until you’re 60, it’s essential to have investments too.
Mr Jury says that it helps to have your investment portfolio completely sorted by the time you’re 40. His main asset is his business of 65 staff, which he views as a “saleable” concern.
He also recommends keeping and maintaining business contacts in your life so that you can leverage them when you begin to slow down and start looking for other ventures in which to invest your time.
Get your business life in order
Implement an exit strategy and a time limit for how long you want to work there.
Make sure your staff know your time limit and that you will be around for the next ten years or so, as this will increase morale and allow them to have a fully realised vision for themselves as part of the company.
Structure your business properly and employ excellent management so that you can walk out the door and it won’t fall apart. Being able to let go and trust your team also prepares you for retirement, so you don’t feel stressed out when the time comes to walk away.
If stepping out of the game earlier than most sounds appealing, here are some things to consider before you embark on your quest for every day sleep-ins:
Don’t have kids
It may sound harsh, but Mark Felton, Financial Planner for Lindale Pty Ltd, says that not having children is the best way to boost your changes of retiring at 50.
He estimates that raising a child from birth to 18 takes upwards of $200,000 and, coupled with the cost of a mortgage, the financial burden can keep you in the workforce for longer.
Start your own business
Joel Palmer, Principal at Palmer Portfolio Financial Advisors, says that most of the people he sees retiring earlier “generally have their own business and are entrepreneurs”. While starting your own company is a riskier option, it’s ultimately the best way to set yourself up for early retirement.
Mr Felton says that the biggest favour you can do for your future self is to get expert guidance. Visiting a financial planner or expert should be your first step in planning your retirement, regardless of your goal age.
Get into a regular savings pattern
Make a habit of saving money. Mr Felton recommends putting money away monthly into investments so that it becomes automatic.
If you’re just starting out with your retirement goal, it’s a good idea to make sure your super is invested in high-risk/high-return options such as the share market as these tend to perform better over the long-term.
Mr Felton says another option is to rent your home and have an investment property on the side. Interest costs are tax deductible on an investment property, but not on a home.
Be prepared to compromise
Ensure that you’re willing to generate income whatever way you can, like working part-time when your savings need to be supplemented or renting out sections of your home to help pay off the mortgage. Anything is possible – and often a risky move can pay off in the long-term.
Boost your super, but don’t rely on it
Mr Felton says the most tax-effective way to save is through superannuation. Make sure your super account is in good shape, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to access that money until you hit 60. Those ten years need to be funded through other avenues.
Live below your means to maximise your savings. This means not eating out as often, fewer impulse buys and a strict budgeting regime. Making some sacrifices at a younger age may enable you to travel overseas or purchase a new car in your retirement.
Determine your goals
It’s a good idea to assess the kind of lifestyle you want to have at 50 and the associated costs, then work backwards from that point. Mr Felton estimates that saving upwards of one million dollars would be a good starting point, given that “it takes $50,000 a year for the average couple to live comfortably”.