I’ve been a contributor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
for more than a decade now, writing about the markets, the economy, and the pursuit of a happier retirement. I also host WSB’s radio show “Money Matters,
” act as the chief investment strategist for my investment firm in Atlanta and wrote a book a few years back.
While it might sound like a lot, it doesn’t feel like work to me because there’s a common goal that ties all of these roles together: I want to help people happily retire sooner than they thought possible. I would define this as one of my core pursuits in life.
My book, titled “You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think,” is based on surveys of over 1,300 folks across 46 states who are nearing or in retirement. I discovered rich information about the habits that tie happy retirees together relative to the unhappy group.
In it, there were five action steps I would recommend you follow to point yourself toward an earlier (and ultimately happier) retirement. The exercise of answering these questions will hopefully give you a sense of where you are and where you’re headed.
- As a percentage of your income, is your primary monthly mortgage well below the standard 25% to 30% that mortgage brokers tout? For happy retirees, they fall somewhere in the 10% to 15% realm.
- Will you be able to pay your mortgage off early? From my research, I found that the happiest retirees have either paid that monthly expense before they retire or are within five years of paying it off when they decide to call it a career.
- For couples, can you live off of one of your incomes? If you can live on the lower of the two, great! That leaves the higher salary to funnel into your retirement nest egg. And if you need the higher salary but can afford to save the smaller one, that’s OK, too. Any way you can accelerate your retirement savings will put you in a very, very good place.
- With that in mind, forget about the old standby that you should save 10% of your income for retirement. My friends, that’s just an outdated (if ever accurate) way of thinking. While it is great when you’re just starting out, it won’t help you retire early. My goal for you is to save at least 20% of your annual income for retirement.
- It’s never too early to start envisioning your retirement income. Of course, you should count your Social Security estimate and (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) include your pension benefit. But what I want you to do is look beyond these income streams and include your potential future investment income. This could include stock dividends, bond interest, rental income from real estate, and even part-time hobby income. Putting this all together, you can home in on what your non-working retirement income might look like, and better plan for that happy retirement.
I am passionate about sharing this exercise with people thinking about retirement and even those who have already entered it. That’s because I want you to retire early and have a long, happy retirement, filled with all the things that bring you joy.
To that end, I’m pressing play on a new audio tool to help people know how they can make their way to an early, happy retirement. This past week, our team launched a podcast called “Retire Sooner with Wes Moss.”
I’m incredibly excited for its launch because it’s another platform our team can use to reach as many aspiring-to-be, soon-to-be, and already retirees as I can. In addition to my experience, I’ll be sharing interviews with fascinating and entertaining guests on the show weekly. We’ll be discussing a variety of topics that in combination tend to add up to happiness in retirement: money, adventure, social connectedness and health. If we can help 1 million people retire one year earlier, that’s 1 million years of newfound American financial independence.
Demographically speaking, over the next 10 years, we’re expecting roughly 36 million people to retire in America. That’s a lot of retirees. By just reaching a small fraction of this group, we can get to a million or more. Consider the magnitude of 1 million extra years of economic freedom that we could create. If we look back in time to around a million years ago, we’ll see our ancestors were just figuring out how to harness fire to prepare food. Five-star restaurants were literally a million years away. Quite simply, a million years is a lot of time, but we think it’s an obtainable goal for the “Retire Sooner” podcast listeners.
To actually pull this off, I’m partnering with Clark Howard and his team at Clark.com to leverage our collective knowledge to better share with you how you can create the security to retire earlier than your current timeline. Clark is someone I’d consider one of the best-known names in the realm of financial prudence and security. I’m continually impressed by his and his team’s impact on millions of families. I have so much respect for his wisdom, and working with the Clark.com team, I know we’ll serve audiences with high-quality financial podcasts, articles and videos.
For the podcast, “Retire Sooner with Wes Moss,” we’ve already got an all-star lineup of interviewees and critical information for listeners to hear.
We’ll dig deep into the five “secrets” of the happiest retirees in the first episode. It’s an important podcast for anyone joining us on the journey to retiring one year sooner. For the second, I share my interview with David Bach, which he happily engaged in from his Tuscan villa in Florence, Italy. David is a New York Times bestselling author who writes about finance and how to become an automatic millionaire and live a rich life. We had a terrific interview talking about his concept of the “radical sabbatical.” He has the inspiring message to get an early start on accomplishing your retirement/life goals like traveling or even living abroad. I’m so excited to hear how listeners interpret and enact this message in their own lives.
Like all of the episodes, these first two are packed with information that benefits everyone — no matter where you are on the road to retirement. So, give us a listen. My guess is that you’ll learn something. I know I already have. I hope you’ll join us soon.
Click here to read the AJC article.
Disclosure: This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only. It is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. The information contained in this piece is not considered investment advice or recommendation or an endorsement of any particular security. Further, the mention of any specific security is solely provided as an example for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.