Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
If you’re not already rich, the race to early retirement can feel like it’s marred by sacrifice. Give up this, give up that — like the only way to retire before 65 is if you suffer now.
Sure, you want to be able to enjoy early retirement, and that means having enough money saved to do so. But you also want to live your life now in a way that brings you joy.
A study from Annuity.com found that people would be willing to sacrifice several of life’s greatest conveniences to be able to achieve what has come to be called FIRE (financial independence, retire early).
The study shows that 20% of people would forgo having children, 27% would live without a pet and 28% would give up dining out just to have their retirement party a decade or two earlier. Some people would even move into a tiny home or sell their car!
But we know there are better ways. You don’t have to give up the things you love just to retire when you’d like to. Here are a few things people suggest giving up to accelerate their retirement timeline — and why we think you shouldn’t.
1. What They Say: ‘Give Up Your Vehicle’
Between car payments, insurance and repairs, having a car can be a big expense. And people eyeing early retirement do tend toward a minimalist lifestyle, so getting rid of your vehicle can be a tempting expense to cut.
But unless you live in a city that’s bike-able or has great public transportation, you’re going to need your own way to get from point A to point B. So instead of selling or letting your lease run out, here are a few tips to cut your car expenses down:
- Buy a used car. Even though the average interest rate to finance a used car is higher than a new car or leasing one, financially you can save thousands of dollars over the course of a few years.
- Cut your car insurance costs. By checking quotes every six months, you can save an average of $489 a year on your insurance payments. A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
2. What They Say: ‘Give Up Online Shopping’
Online shopping can be an account drainer — it’s so easy to put things into your cart, click a few buttons and wait for your package to arrive a few days later. And if your aim is to save a lot of money over the next decade or two, online shopping can be a major roadblock.
But here’s the thing — you can still shop online. You just need to be smart about it: Never overpay, and get cash rewards.
That’s exactly what this free service does for you.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop-up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
In the past year, this browser extension has saved people $160 million.
You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
3. What They Say: ‘Give Up Dining Out’
While the world was in quarantine, we learned to be more self-reliant in the kitchen, and many of us saw a significant drop in our dining-out expenditures (take-out, maybe not so much). So it’s understandable that 28% of people say they’d give it up entirely to reach their early retirement goals.
But for the other 72% who love going to restaurants and ordering delivery, financial independence isn’t off the table. There are just some strategic moves to make so you can keep supporting your favorite local spots and give your family a break from all the dishes.
First, look for discounts: You can find them on Groupon or with a AAA discount. You can even buy discounted gift cards on websites like Restaurant.com. If you have kids, check out restaurants that let them eat free on certain days of the week.
Next, make sure you’re getting cash back every time you go out to eat (or swipe your debit card in general).
If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash right now?
Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 5% back every time you swipe.
Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.
Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.
You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?
Enter your email address, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
4. What They Say: ‘Give Up More Living Space’
The tiny home — or small space — lifestyle has become increasingly popular among the retire-early crowd. It’s cheaper to own, likely includes no mortgage and is less expensive on upkeep, as well.
In fact, 17% of people surveyed said they would live in a space smaller than 700 square feet, if it meant they could retire early. For a single person that may be fine, but for couples or families — it might just not be enough.
Instead, you could keep the space you love and find ways to save money and make money with it, such as making up to $300 a month from your empty garage.
Extra rooms in your house don’t need to be left empty. You can rent out unused storage space — your shed or your garage — to your neighbors who need it. A website and app called Neighbor can help you earn up to $300 a month, on your terms. Use this calculator to see how much your available storage space is worth.
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