5 Steps To Retire In 12 Years

My underlying purpose of starting this blog is to document my journey on my way to retiring early. I am not sure if everyone out there really has a dream or desire to get out of the rat race early, if at all. It’s not necessarily a noble goal and I don’t really try to push it on anyone. Some people really like their career, and other people don’t mind working. Others genuinely enjoy having a nice house, big car and lots of stuff and are willing to work for it. I don’t think any of these traits are negatives. I simply don’t share them. If you share my desire to retire young and spend more time relaxing and less working then follow along as I share my list of five steps to take if you want to retire early.

My personal journey started last year at 28 years old. I have a goal to be financially independent by 40 years old. That makes my journey 12 years long. I’m going to put a road map together for others who have such a goal.

1. Save At Least 50%

Saving money is always my number one priority when it comes to plotting out my early retirement plan. If you can manage to cut expenses and maximize your savings to the point of saving 50% of your net income the odds are pretty good that you’ll be able to retire young. Let’s say you net $40,000/year. That means you are saving at least $20,000 of your total net income. If you manage to earn 8% annually on your $20K contribution you’ll end up with a portfolio value of $403,000 after 12 years. That’s a basic calculation, not factoring in inflation or taxes..but also not factoring in rising contributions. At a 5% yield, that kind of portfolio would be throwing off a little north of $20,000 a year. This would meet your expenses based on these calculations. Living on a fraction of your income not only maximizes your investment potential, but also puts you into a situation where you need less capital to live on. It’s a win-win!

2. Invest Regularly

Some investors classify themselves as traders and look at charts, fundamentals, trading ranges..etc. I don’t really bother with this stuff. I espouse regular monthly investing through a dollar-cost-average strategy. That means setting aside a certain percentage of your income or a fixed dollar amount and investing through high and low markets. This prevents you from sitting on too much cash and not earning anything on your money. If you listen to all the financial noise awaiting the next doomsday scenario you’ll never invest a dollar. Skip the doomsayers and start investing for your future. I try to have a watchlist of 50 or so stocks that includes my portfolio. Every month I invest in what I think is the most attractively valued business at that time. 

3. Get A Second Job

This isn’t necessary, but if you are having a hard time reaching goal #1 after cutting expenses, then raising your income and therefore raising your savings rate is crucial. Some expenses simply can’t be cut or reduced, and I understand that. The only logical change at that point would be increasing your income. If you are earning just an extra $100 a week working part-time on the weekends and you put that away for 12 years earning the 8% I used above, you’d have an extra $96,000! Some of us work a lot. I currently work over 50 hours a week at my primary job, so the thought of working on my days off is not appealing. But, I’d rather put in a few extra hours a week now to avoid working until I’m 70.

4. Get Fit

You don’t want to be just financially fit, but also physically fit. I’ve laid out some pretty hefty goals already; limiting expenses and working two jobs. It gets better. If you want to have a chance to retire early, you should be engaging in some type of physical activity. You don’t have to train for a marathon, but engaging in some type of physical fitness regimen for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week will be extremely helpful. It doesn’t have a direct impact on your portfolio’s value, but it will limit your health care costs and therefore put you in a better spot to retire young. You’ll boost your energy levels, limit your chances of having large hospital bills due to chronic illness or disease and improve your mood. You’ll look and feel better, and it’s free! Also, once you are no longer filling a great deal of your time with your job, you’ll want to find something productive to fill your time with. One easy and cheap way to stay in shape is to bike to the places you need to go. I currently do that. Not only do you save money on auto costs, but you stay in great shape too. Another win-win!

5. Budget And Keep Track

Goals and progress are hard to see if you don’t keep track. How do you know how far you’ve come or how much further you still have to go if you don’t catalog your results? I use this blog, my budget account with Mint, and my brokerage tools to keep track of my progress. What do you do? You should definitely budget your income and expenses to see how close to a 50% savings rate you are. You’ll want to track your investments to see if you are on track to reach your target amount. With just 12 years to retire, your margin for error is much tighter than someone who is on a 40 year schedule. You have to stay on course, stay motivated and don’t lose track of your end goal.

In Summary…

I’m currently doing all five things I have listed, so I know they aren’t too difficult. I’m a very average Joe with a very modest middle-class income. I’m currently making less than I used in my example, but I’m also spending less as well. There are a lot of people who feel that retiring in such a short time frame is impossible, but I really don’t agree. I think if you follow these five steps it’s very realistic to retire in 12 years.

When do you want to retire?

Thanks for reading.


  1. says


    Great post, as usual. I’d like to retire no earlier than 42 (which puts me at 20 years in the military). I’ve got 17 years left until then, so we’ll see how it goes – my opinion may change :)

    Anyway, I definitely agree with most of your points in this article too! I’ll be running a marathon in Atlanta in October..


    • says

      I like your five step plan to retire early. I think that every individual determined to retire early should be able to save a portion of their income, and then invest it in dividend paying stocks. Then by adding new capital, and reinvesting dividends, they should be able to get to financial independence. In addition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, and would allow you to enjoy the fruits of yours labor for decades to come in retirement.

      Best Regards,

      Dividend Growth Investor

    • says


      Thanks for the comment!

      I agree with you. An individual should not be focused just on the investing and saving aspects, but the health aspects as well. No sense retiring early if you can’t enjoy it physically.

      Best wishes!

  2. Anonymous says


    Don’t forget that good nutrition is part of a healthy, forward-looking lifestyle. One of the easiest cost decisions is to drink water in place of juices, sodas and other costly beverages. Juices are often high in sugar and have been associated with type 2 Diabetes. Water is (essentially) free with a filter and keeps you fit!

    Great post, I look forward to your readings!

    -The Div Dude

  3. says


    Thanks for the comment. I may meet your pretty close to your goal of no earlier than 42. Though my goal is 40, it’s extremely hard to predict that far out into the future and I may be hard-pressed to get there. I may also seek semi-retirement at some point if I start to really hate my job, which I kind of already do.

    Good luck on your marathon! Running is not my strong suit, and I usually like light jogging/biking/elliptical training. I used to be a competitive bodybuilder, so I enjoy the free weights as well.

    Keep in touch and I’m looking forward to seeing how close our journeys end up.

  4. says


    Thanks for stopping by. You make excellent points and I need to heed your advice more often. My one weakness is Coke. I don’t smoke, I very rarely drink and I keep pretty fit. I have a hard time giving up my Coke, however. I guess it’s a habit of mine. I try to eat as healthy as I can on my budget, but it definitely isn’t the healthiest diet in the world. I’ll take my lumps on that one.

    Keep in touch!

    • says

      Had the same weakness, took me a about 2-3 weeks not drinking coke to be able to not think about it everyday, but i now drink juice, it’s bad for my health anyway because of the sugar…

    • says

      I am in the same predictament with Mountain Dew. I want it sometimes to get through boredom at work.

      I have completely given up on all other sweets though. Even one bite tastes disgusting with all that dense sugar. Cake and ice cream at Work and at birthdays irritates me, when i rather they give out grapes, apple slices, or carrots. I don’t eat any of it.

      What frustrates me at work are the cubicles. The imprisonment of the Soul. Sitting 8 hours 5 days a week, then sitting as you commute hopefully to the park after work, else more sitting on the couch at home until you go horizontal.
      I have never sat for so long in my life. Even in college you are walking 2 miles daily inbetween 50 min sittings of classes, 3 times a day. Then you walk to whatever fun you have planned that day with friends.

      Biking to work would be great and is a sound solution. Though it irritates me further how local counties refuse to build bike paths and sidewalks, because they are keeping the poor and rich seperate. They don’t want the poor walking and biking everywhere during the day and late night, while the rich(even poorer because they drive on borrowed money) drive at zooming speeds to get to work or to get to the malls for spending. Retired pedestrians and zooming worker-consumers don’t mix very well, unfortunately. I am glad you (and I) are trying to change those mindsets, though not forcing anyone to do so.

  5. says

    I became financially aware at a very late age of 34 back in 2008. I have slowly built a portfolio of $180K in dividend growth stocks over the last 3 years by putting in around $60K every year, and at 37 feel pretty confident that I can probably retire in the next 10-13 years if I am able to save that much as I have been in the past 3 years. I just hope I had become financially aware when I was in my 20s.

  6. says

    Nice set of goals Mantra ๐Ÿ˜‰

    WOW 50% that’s pretty ambitious! I know you can do that, but don’t starve yourself either – you have to have fun once in a while. But then I guess the plan is to work and invest now, and play later ๐Ÿ˜‰

    When you are retired at my age, I’ll buy you a beer. And good to stay fit too!

    The Dividend Ninja

    • says


      He rather have you ask to bike 10 miles with him then have you buy him a beer(25% taxes included).

      Or better yet, show him how to shoot an arrow from a long bow and hit your target 100 yards away, since your a Ninja ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now that’s a lot of fun and useful in the stealth of the night, when guns go bang and wake everyone up.

  7. Anonymous says

    This is too general. No numbers backing up the plan. All I can say this is more of a wish rather than a plan. Have you consider your family status change, spouse, kid, etc? Any health coverage when you are into 50s or 60s. A good wish but not realistic. My suggestion is to work on your numbers and consider the variables.

    • says

      You must take the thorn out of your eye, before you can take the thorn out of someone else’s eye.

      Mantra will retire early, then will have 40 hours a week to spend with his future wife and children. He can then work part time if he wishes to increase his passive income more to help make financially indepedent his own family.

      My great grandfather and great grandmother manged to raise 16 children and paid off a Farm in their 60 years on this Earth.
      Now that Farm has recently been valued for licensing for Natural Gas royalties.. and my family reunions are quite large.

      Jacob at Earlyretirementextreme calculates about $7k/year/person for financial independence, probably $5k/year/child will be the minimum in USA standards (example: cloth diapers are used more by russian families , or cheap disposables for more per year for American Families). But financial sustainability varies a lot for children, especially if they help plant gardens with you. By age 18-22 they can start working toward gaining their own Freedom Funds and passive incomes, while extra passive income to raise them will help out with medical costs.

      Technology will make things more and more efficient and cheaper as it has been doing for hundreds of years. You will have to know the difference between high quality and cheap quality, and how important certain technologies are to your daily life and happy lifestyle. Having a dishwasher hooked up to a filtration Cisteen Water System and Solar/Wind electric System, gets you off the grid; cheap if you buy used, or find used thrown out and repaired by your own skills and hands. (Watch “The Colony” from Discovery channel to learn more about creating free off the grid systems as was apart of their experiment).

  8. says

    I’d love to retire by 40, but I think I’d rather prefer to work another ten years, continuing to compound my dividends and increase my retirement contributions in order to have a more comfortable retirement life.

    Of course, there are two sides to this spectrum. One being the Early Retirement Extreme (ERE) example, wanting to retire at 30 and the other being the “I’ll need to work forever because I like to buy expensive things.”

    You’re somewhat in between there, Mantra, but I’d say you’re more of a sensible ERE. As you mentioned, no one way is necessary wrong, but it’s all about how you want to live your life. I am sure I don’t want to be so frugal in my later years, so working another ten years will help out in my case.

    But who really knows? We’re talking about 10 to 30 years out. What will happen with the economy or our own individual situations is only a guess, but it’s never a bad idea to have a solid plan.

    Keep up the good work!

    • says

      Keep challenging your frugality and knowing the exact levels of everything you regularly need/want to buy, to know if it truely makes you happy.

      Same with keep challening to increase your income and working for yourself to make money. Investments are beyond the Stock Market, you can Sell products, services, creative solutions to any problem, you can even build robots to bring back rocks (or maybe rare space minerals from the astroidbelt) from the Moon and sell for hundreds of thousands.

      The skills of Innovation, Creativity, Focus, Attitude, willpower to act, limitless thoughts, and Imagination are POWERFUL for learning new frugality, new passive and active Income, and learning self-sefficiency/ freedom from money, power, etc.

  9. says

    Nice list there DM, although I’m not a big fan of getting a second job. Another way to reduce expenses might be to live with your parents. I’m doing that, no shame, and I barely use 10% of my income. But then again I recently graduated college and only working part time.

  10. says


    Wow! That is fantastic. $60K per year is phenomenal. Congratulations for being in such a great spot. You have a pretty large portfolio for only starting 3 years ago. 34 isn’t bad at all, you’re not far behind me in terms of time and I probably won’t have that large of a portfolio at your age. Keep up the fantastic job!

  11. says


    Thanks for stopping by! I think 50% is ambitious over such a long period of time, but I actually hope to be closer to 60% or more. We’ll see. A lot can happen in 12 years. The plan is definitely to work hard now so that I can enjoy the rest of my life later.

    I look forward to having a beer with you!

    Keep in touch.

  12. says


    The numbers were presented in the first part of the article. If the numbers don’t work out with one job, then developing multiple sources of income would be necessary. I discuesed that later in the article.

    It’s actually possible to do this in 5 years if you manage to save over 70% of your net income.



    Jacob explains how he retired in 5 years there. You can also see how he pays less than $100/mo in health care.

    I don’t plan on ever marrying or having children.

    Good luck on your own journey!

    • says

      Oh Mantra,

      Marring and having childen isn’t that bad of a life goal. It’s not expensive either if your family is happy and frugal. But it’s your choice, which may change as life goes on.

      If Overpopulation of the Earth Fears you (like it does to soo many), then realize that the Universe is growing and expanding for a reason. There are beyound 50 Billion Galaxies to explore and growing. Right now we don’t understand the science and technology to explore intergalactically within our lifetimes, but it’s only impossible if we stop working toward discovering the mysteries of the Universe.

      In the past few years, we discovered a method to observe our own STAR, and send robots and man into our own Solar System!!!! Look at those Magnetic Fields move with all those energies and rubberband snapping explosions of tremondous, bigger then Earth literally, Power Levels! We have yet to understand what even Gravity is made of! Imagine Amplifying Gravity with anitmatter-matter energy levels to warp spacetime itself!

      We could Warp SpaceTime to our Will, which would be the will to travel faster then light; because spacetime is expanding faster then light, so we could explore, populate, and grow to those 50 Billion Galaxies that contain 50 Billion Stars with 0-20 planets each which may have 3 habitable planets to terraform for habitating humanity.

      The more Free Time and educated thoughts of a person, and the more people there are, the more creativite solutions, productions, innovations, and applications will be discovered and pioneered for all of humanity.

      Most people disbelieve until one person proves them all wrong! Then they open their eyes for the first time!

  13. says


    I think you have me nailed. I’m definitely a sensible ERE. Not extreme enough to retire in 5 years, but I definitely do not want the typical 30-40 year career track either.

    I can understand your feelings on wanting to work an additional 10 years to live a more comfortable retirement. It wouldn’t be terribly fun to be super frugal at 60 years old, but by investing in dividend growth stocks I hope to outpace inflation and actually INCREASE my purchasing power over time. Also, engaging in some type of very light part-time work could be possible to fund purchases above and beyond what dividends would fund. By retiring so young you have the possibility of going back to work if things don’t work out. I’d still be young enough.

    I think you definitely understand what I’m trying to accomplish. Thanks so much for commenting and I appreciate your insights!

  14. says


    Nothing wrong with living with your parents, especially just coming out of college. I say you maximize that opportunity and use it to your advantage. It sounds like you are already doing that by only spending 10% of your income. Great job!

    I’m looking forward to seeing your journey as well.

    Keep in touch.

  15. says

    Great article Mantra.
    Like Amit,I started being financialy savy at the age of 34(2010).The thing is,I did not work for the lower half of the year of 2010.
    To the readers of this blog who think life is over cause you may not have a job presently,you are so wrong.
    Do what I did…READ!
    I use the little bit of cash I had and Bought books like The Millionaire Next Door,Think and Grow Rich,The Intelligent Investor,Accounting For Dummies ect…
    I plan at that time was to hold my self responsible for my financial state and state of mind using education…
    I just start working a month ago and I am still ordering books.Not only for information but also for insiration.
    I also read blogs like this,Div Ninja,Div Partisan,Div Pig,Seeking Alpha ect.
    Take Charge of you own finances cause no one ever care more about your money than you…
    See you all in freedom…lol..Take care.

  16. says


    I totally agree. There is nothing wrong with being unemployed, and I plan on being voluntarily unemployed at a young age. That’s what I’m aiming for.

    I’m glad you are back on track earning an income, however, as money can buy you time. You have more freedom and options with money, so it’s important to accumulate it as fast and early as possible.

    I wish you luck in your journey and you’re not starting a whole lot later than I did. Keep it up and stay on track. Good luck!

  17. says

    Nice general road map there. I am looking to semi-retire in about 12 years, at least dropping to part time work. Enough to keep benefits and possibly pay for all expenses and 401k/IRA contributions.
    My goals in the next 12 years is to max annual contributions to 401k/IRA, pay off all debt, including mortgage, have $1 million dividend stock portfolio (that means I need to be on Amit’s savings goal).

    We will see.

  18. says

    me myself and I,

    A $1 million stock portfolio within 12 years is a fantastic goal. I know that I won’t be able to come anywhere close to that, but I wish you the best of luck. With that kind of portfolio and working part-time too, you’ll have quite a semi-retirement fund!

    Good luck.

  19. says


    The numbers are feasible and if you have followed this blog for any amount of time then you have seen DM take steps to boost his savings rate. One recent example is the sale of his automobile to get rid of auto/gas/insurance expenses.

    My personal savings rate for my wife and I is 25% and if you consider our tithe to our church, then we are at a 35% savings rate. We are taking some steps to increase our savings rate. Recently we stopped using our cloths dryer. We now dry our cloths outside or in front of our A/C unit which works quite well. We are also in the process of installing a wind turbine which will reduce our utilities. We are also in the process of purchasing hens for organic fresh eggs and free range chickens for food. We are gardening as well for organic vegetables and have fruit trees that will start to produce in the next 5 to 10 years. We have mango and avocado at the moment.

    Another great article David! Keep up the good work. I will begin in earnest with my website the beginning of September. My goal is to be a DIV-Net associate member.

    Income Pirate

  20. says

    Income Pirate,

    Thanks for stopping by! I thought you already had a website? Or you did at one time?

    25% savings rate is pretty good, keep up the great work. I’m trying to get my net income savings rate closer to 70% I’m slowly getting there.

    I wish you luck on the new website. Let me know when you have it up and running so I can stop by.

    BTW, who’s David?

    Keep in touch!

  21. says


    Lol…I don’t know who David is. For some reason I thought your name was David and after I posted my comment I went back to check your website and could not find your name listed so my bad!

    Yeah, I have a website and have only posted a couple articles. I am about to make a major push with it. I will stop by when I get some content going.

    Income Pirate

  22. says


    Ok, I remember now. Well definitely make a push with it. I wish you luck and I’ll make sure to stop by.

    No problem on the name mix-up! Keep in touch. I appreciate you stopping by.

    To our pursuits!

  23. jiminyork says

    I like this post, it’s nice and balanced. Some big goals, although I agree with those saying don’t deprive yourself too much. It’s like that line about fitness fanatics – they put so much work in to try and extend their lives by ten years, only to find they’ve spent the ten years in the gym! My dad always used to say don’t wish too hard for retirement, it’ll be upon you soon enough. One of my financial goals was to pay off my mortgage, which I did when I was 43. When I was 44, I went out and bought a bigger house and took on a new mortgage! I convinced myself it was an investment that actually brought me an everyday benefit because I lived there. Still, without the goal I might never have got there at all.

  24. says


    Haha, funny story about the fitness fanatics. I’ve definitely fit in that category in the past.

    It’s definitely all about balance. Strive to enjoy your life now while also saving toward the future. Some people really love working and like their job, and for people like that saving a ton of money to get out of the rat race early doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get that. Retiring early isn’t for everyone, and neither should it be. We’re all unique individuals in the world.

    Best wishes!

  25. says

    DM, great ideas. I am unable to cut that drastically my expenses so I tried a second job ending up working 16 hours a day and sleeping 4-5 hours a day only. I could sustain it for 4 months only.

    So I am taking different alternatives such as leveraging and option selling to boost income and have additional savings.

    • says


      I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t be able to sustain living on 4-5 hours of sleep either, and I wouldn’t much want to. Life is meant to be enjoyed and it’s certainly tough to do so when you’re busy working all the time. All work and no play makes Martin a dull boy, no?

      There is more than one way to skin a cat. If you can find a way to simultaneously cut expenses and increase income (no matter how), then that’s where you want to be. Invest the excess intelligently and you’re well on your way!

      Best regards.

  26. Anonymous says

    I just found your blog last night. As someone rapidly approaching 50, married, with three children, but hoping to retire in a few years I had a few questions so I can better understand your position:

    1. Why do you wish to retire at 40? What are your goals in “retirement”? I don’t see that anywhere?
    2. Why are you not doing now what you think you may be doing at 40? You appear to be unattached with no family obligations. Why not pursue your passions today. As someone who lost a brother and has a colleague who was paralyzed in an auto accident, putting off our dreams may be costly.
    3. Why spend the next ten years at a job you don’t enjoy? Why not find a rewarding career or profession? That’s a long time treading water.
    3. Are you assuming that you will not fall in love and have a family?

    Not intended as criticism. Just offering and looking for perspective.

    • says


      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the blog!

      As far as your questions go I’ll do my best to answer them honestly and succinctly.

      1. My interests and passions have been laid out many times, but one post that aims to do so pretty clearly is here:


      Primarily, I seek to have more time to do the things I have a passion for: writing, investing, spending time with friends and family, fitness. I’d also be interested in philanthropy (giving away my time).

      2. All of the above, or at least not to the degree I’d like to. For instance, I’ve definitely scaled back in my fitness regimen because it’s extremely tough to give my all to this blog and have time to work out in the manner that I feel befits me. Also, I don’t spend as much time researching companies as I’d like. I certainly do a great job considering my time constraints, as can be seen on the blog, but I’d like to spend even more time pouring over annual reports.

      3. I find it exceedingly rare to meet someone who really “loves” their job, or somehow finds some kind of deep passion for it. And rightly so. It’s hard to have a passion for something for 40-50 hours per week for decades on end. I love blogging, but if I had to drive somewhere across town and clock in for 9 hours and do nothing but blog, then come home at 6:30 I’d be uninterested after a month. This journey is about flexibility and freedom, not finding chains that are lighter.

      4. I have already fallen in love and have been with my current girlfriend for over three years. I don’t believe having a family or getting married somehow validates feelings of love. Having children or not having children is a personal decision, and marriage is, for all intents and purposes, a legal definition. Furthermore, my decision to not have children predated my journey to financial independence by a number of years, so my views on a family is not driven by finances. Also, being married and having children does not preclude early retirement, so I’m not sure how that really matters.

      I hope that helps!

      Best regards.

  27. Jeroen says

    Very cool thing you have going here! Keep up to good job!

    A question about savings. You mention to save at least 50%. Do I understand correctly that you invest all of this in stock?
    Do you save money in any other way, like just an ordinary savings account, deposits, etc in case things go south for whatever reason?

    I know just letting your money sit in an account is a ‘bad’ investment and I understand that if you invest correctly and in the right companies the risk will be mitigated. However I’m Dutch and saving money is in our blood ๐Ÿ˜›

    • says


      Thanks so much! Appreciate the kind words and support very much. :)

      And yes, I invest 100% of my savings into stock. At least, that’s how it’s been up until now. That could change in the future if other investments (like bonds) become more attractive, but right now I feel dividend growth stocks are the best vehicle for me to achieve my goals.

      Keep in mind that cash isn’t as safe as it sounds. I don’t know what the inflation rate is where you’re at, but here in the U.S. it trends around 3% or so over the long term. That means your cash is slowly losing value if it’s sitting in a savings account somewhere, unless the interest rate is well over inflation.

      Best regards!

  28. patrick says

    Great article. I’m pretty frugal, even though we are a family. I don’t think in terms of frugal, though. I think in terms of not being the crowd that is often wasteful with money (where they could have easily save their money by not spending it by spending a few extra minutes, such as making lunch and not buying it.) It’s nice to see the savings grow. I save first, then spend the rest. Our budget is soft, not firm, but we try to stick to $300 a month for food and typically don’t spend money on other things. Maybe $100 here or there.

    • says


      Thanks for dropping by!

      Being frugal means something different to everyone, but the key is that you’re living far below your means and saving enough of your income to meet your goals. I’ve been able to save 50% of my net income for the past four years, but I’ve seen some others save 70%+. So they might think I’m not frugal, whereas I might think people who only save 10% aren’t frugal. Of course, your income matters as well.

      Sounds like you’re on the right track there, though!

      Best regards.

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