In my 20s, I moved to New York City. Though I am not a big spender, New York was eating into my $85,000 investment banking salary. I was spending $3,000 a month in rent, $600 in food, and almost $2,700 in taxes.
I calculated my projected retirement date based on my savings and contributions rate. It was 68. This was in 2015. Since then, I have taken control of my retirement and savings.
1. Move to a Less Expensive, Less Stressful City
After moving from Manhattan to Chicago, I saw my living costs plummet. I had the same salary, but significantly lower expenses.
– Groceries in Chicago are 25% cheaper.
– Health insurance costs 30% less.
– Services such as haircuts are 20% less.
– Housing is ½ of what it is in New York.
My expenditures in Chicago in total were 30% LESS.
My commute is also much shorter (by 1 hour per day). With my newfound free time, I am working to generate multiple sources of income with financial consulting and blogging.
2. Save on Taxes
New York State has a progressive tax rate based on income — mine was about 6.5%. On top of state taxes, New York City also levies a 3.5% if you live within city limits. That was 10% of my income going to city and state taxes.
Illinois had a flat tax of around 3.75% regardless of income. I do not pay a city tax at all.
I also started making a significant portion of my income free-lancing and doing financial consulting. Being self-employed, I am able to take deductions on certain expenses such as:
(3) Food when traveling
(4) Cell phone and internet plans
3. Ditch Your Car
Since 2015, I got rid of my car and took public transportation instead. It was not for financial reasons though. I got rid of it to remove the stress of maintenance, parking, and worrying about the depreciation.
As a side effect, I am saving a lot of money. The monthly car payment for my 2014 Honda Accord was $450. With compounding interest and assuming a 7% annual return, my $450 monthly savings translates to $6,000 a year, or more than $300K over 20 years.
Can I retire in my 30s?
At this point, I am aiming to hit the $1 million goal by 30. Can I retire? Yes. Will I do it? Who knows? The point is, I COULD retire in my 30s. Having that option makes my life so much better.