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Advice for your former self

So what advice would Scott and Rhonda give their 50-year-old selves about preparing for retirement?

“The first thing would be to budget earlier, to know those expenses,” Scott said.

Once you know this number, you can figure out how much you need to save to retire, depending on when you want to retire.

Secondly, “don’t accumulate too many bills,” he said, adding that he and his wife had to tighten their belts for a few years as they prepared for retirement.

Scott would also tell his younger self to start saving earlier, saying he and his wife started “way too late” — when he was age 44. Now, when it comes to advising his own children about retirement, “I never shut up” about how much more money they could save if they start investing in their 20s as opposed to their 30s — because Scott learned the hard way.

Compounding, or earning a return on your principal plus the returns you’ve already accrued, is one of the main benefits of investing early. For example, if the return on your portfolio is 7% and you invest $100 at the beginning of each month starting at age 25, you’ll have around $248,000 if you retire at age 65. If you start investing the same amount at age 35, you’ll have around $117,000 instead. If you don’t start saving until 10 years before retirement, you’ll need to put away more than $1,500 each month to reach $259,000.

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Tips for people looking to retire early

If you’re planning to retire between the ages of 50 and 65, you’ll need to plan ahead — many years ahead.

Once you think you’re in an “okay spot,” Scott recommends getting an outside opinion from a financial planner or other expert to see if you’re on track — or totally off base.

That person can look at your assets, investments, age and expected expenses, and give their opinion as to whether you’re ready to retire now or, if you’re not, when you will be. They might also be able to help you reach your goal faster or make your money last longer in retirement.

But, “sometimes the feedback’s not so rosy,” Taublieb said.

You may also want to consider enlisting outside help earlier in your financial journey in order to maximize your savings.

When asked what he would advise people who are only a few years away from retiring, Scott says he found it helpful to fix the date so he could get his affairs in order, rather than “a floating date that was out there.”

But he says it’s also important to have a plan for what to do in retirement for purpose and fulfillment. After all, there’s no rule that you have to retire at 65, even if you can afford it. Some may choose to keep working because it’s what gives them purpose.

Rhonda points out that, if you’re in a relationship, it’s important to work as a team because you’ll need to make some tradeoffs and sacrifices to be ready to retire early.

So, if you’re dreaming of early retirement, you may need to make some tradeoffs and sacrifices. But, as Scott and Rhonda have demonstrated, with a bit of planning, discipline, outside help and teamwork, you can bring that dream to fruition.

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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.

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