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6 Offbeat Ways to Retire Early

6 Offbeat Ways to Retire Early - TaxACT

If you really, really want to retire early, here are some ways to do it.

In an ideal world, we’d all save money year after year until we had enough stashed away to maintain us in the style to which we have become accustomed.

Then we’d retire, secure in the knowledge that we’re set for the rest of our expected lives.

It doesn’t always work out that way.

Divorce, real estate downturns, and business setbacks can set the best-laid financial plans back — sometimes almost back to the starting point.

Even if your retirement plan is on track, you may decide you want to retire earlier than you had planned.

Perhaps you can, if you’re willing to consider some offbeat ways to do it. Take for instance:

Become a caretaker

If you can take care of real estate, outdoor facilities and livestock, or an elderly person, you may be able to get a free place to live in exchange for your trouble.

For example, if you can manage an apartment building, you typically live in your unit for free.

You may also find ads for live-in positions on a ranch or summer camp, or to stay with an elderly person who just needs someone to keep an eye on them and perhaps run errands.

Retire temporarily

Maybe you feel trapped.

You haven’t had more than two weeks off at a time in decades. You just want to do nothing, or at least only what you feel like, for six months or a year.

Go for it.

Why wait until you have enough money saved up to last you the rest of your life? If you’re in reasonably good financial shape, it may be easier to take time off than you think.

Your current employer may even grant you a leave of absence if you ask.

If you’re relatively young, you may return to work with a renewed sense of purpose. Or you may discover what you really want to do when you grow up.

Sometimes we’re only as trapped as we let ourselves be.

Move in with family or friends, or let them move in with you

Maintaining a household for one or two people is expensive. You can live on far less if you’re willing to share living quarters with one or more people.

You could let a college student or a single person live with you, and share the costs and responsibilities of maintaining a home.

On the other hand, you could be worth your keep if you move in with your adult child and take care of the grandkids.

Move someplace ridiculously cheap

The cost of living in the U.S. varies immensely from one place to another.

It’s not just real estate that can cost a fraction of the price farther away from the popular hot spots. The costs of eating out, going to the doctor, and seeing a movie may be surprisingly low someplace other than where you live now.

For example, say you live in Washington, D.C., but you’re considering moving to Columbus, Ohio. Overall, the cost of living in Columbus is 47% cheaper than Washington. The cost of housing is an amazing 77% lower.

There’s no more surefire way to instantly improve your standard of living and cut your expenses than to move someplace where it costs less to live.

If you’re willing to move outside the U.S., you can find even cheaper places to live. Rent, food, and services are very inexpensive in places like Costa Rica, where you can live for $1,500 or less.

Cut a deal with your spouse

If your spouse is working, are you sure you need two incomes? Here’s an exciting conversation you can have. Suggest that you try living on just one income, at least for a while.

You might be surprised at how easily you can do it. By the time you calculate reduced expenses and vastly lower income taxes, you may do as well living on one income as you did on two.

Find something so great that it doesn’t seem like work

6 Offbeat Ways to Retire Early - TaxACT

Face it — if you can’t wait to retire, you’re in the wrong job. Or maybe you’re not cut out for a traditional job at all.

Escaping from a job you hate going to doesn’t mean you can’t make any money, or use all those talents you’ve spent your lifetime acquiring. You still have so much to give. You just don’t want to commute early every morning to go someplace and give it.

Sometimes it’s not the work you hate, but the commute, the cubicle, or the company of the people you work with.

Forget your goals list, or what anyone else thinks of you.

Start your own business, be a consultant, or try any of a number of things you haven’t let yourself do until now.

Go back to school, or take night or online classes until you qualify for the work you really want. (Notice we didn’t say “job.”)

You only have one life. Spend it doing work that is meaningful to you. Tweet this

Your turn…

What sacrifices would you be willing to make in order to retire early?

Join the discussion, we’d love to see you in the conversation over on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

Photo credit: Leo Hidalgo (@yompyz) cc

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About Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and personal finance columnist and author of Help! I Can't Pay My Bills, Surviving a Financial Crisis (St. Martin's Griffin). She writes regularly at CreditCards.com, Bankrate.com, Interest.com, RedPlum, and MSN Money. She is an experienced speaker and a member of Toastmasters International. Follow Sally on Twitter.