How I Retired at Age 28 With Over $2 Million: A 4-Step Blueprint

Daniel Penzing
Written by
Last update:

Background

Two Universal Equations

You’ve probably heard a quote that goes: Life is like riding a bicycle.

There is a lot of truth in that statement. Life is like riding a bicycle because once you figure it out, you never forget. Anyone can learn to ride a bike; it just takes practice and some determination.

Life isn’t like a bicycle though, because you can never let up on the gas pedal. Even when you reach your goal, there is still more to be achieved. The only difference is that you can focus on different things.

If you are frustrated with keeping up with your finances, you might want to look at the first universal equation of life:

“Your expenses will always exceed your income”

You will never be able to earn more than you can spend. No matter how much you earn, your expenses will always be more. At some point when you are on top of your game, it is easy to say: “My expenses are less than my income. I am saving enough and can now start investing in my future.”

Spending

When you become wealthy and decide to retire early off your success, you might think that this means you will have more time to spend with your children. But this isn't always true. It would be easy for me to quit my full-time job today and become a full-time stay-at-home dad. But there are many other things that will need to be done, such as sending out bills, paying down debt, and managing the investments. That means more work for me, which will cut back on my time with my family. This isn't something that only happens just rich people. Everyone's life is different, and an early retiree still has a full plate of things to do.

But even though I am looking to retire early, I am still with my family. I didn't just run off and retire to some island by myself. I may have the option to do that in the future, but I'll always want to spend as much time with my family as possible. If you want to retire early and spend more time with your family, your best bet is to work hard, make a lot of money, but then communicate with the family what your plans are and ask for their input. What they want to do doesn't always matter, but you want them to be excited and on board about your dreams. Don't just do this all by yourself. Run it by them first.

Income

Children: Going into the family business is an option for one generation, but certainly not the next generation. If your goal is to have one or all of the kids take over the running of the business, then they need to be brought up in a manner that teaches them that.

If a family business is working for you, then by all means continue. There is no right or wrong way. But if you are pursuing a family business because you want your children to have light work loads, a solid education and a substantial inheritance, you might just want to rethink things.

If you have over a million dollars saved up by the time you’re 50, you’re doing well. Not only that but you’ll be surprised at how long that million will last you and your family in retirement. You’ll need to be careful with your budget, will need to adjust to living on less income (because most of your monthly retirement income will be spent during your very long retirement), and you’ll need to learn how to live on a fixed income (in case you haven’t had to do that before). But you’ll still have plenty of money left over.

Portfolio Growth: Good Places to Grow Your Money

With six figures to invest, you need to be careful. Choosing the right funds and stocks is the most important thing. If you choose poorly, you could end up with a little or you could end up losing it all.

If you are not in the market, investing in stocks can be a good option. As long as you take a disciplined investment approach, you should be okay.

Otherwise, mutual funds are a great way to play it safe. While there will be a small fee for managing the account, that fee is tiny compared to the returns you could net with the right stocks. Small mutual funds with a low expense ratio can offer much better returns than the growth of money than you have on your own.

Gold can also be a good investment. If you learn a little about the economic history, you’ll realize that gold tends to be a good investment at times like now. With a little money, you can find an investment in gold that will keep your money safe. While the price of gold may be fluctuating, it will continue to climb overall.

Tax Exposure

You're going to own a chunk of a real estate investment trust and a portion of a master limited partnership. Unless you have a master's in tax law, you're likely to lose about 50% of your profits to the tax man.

So, how can you mitigate your tax burden?

Income Earned Only Once – Placing your extra income in a retirement plan (like a 401(k) or an IRA) can help you defer taxes until you're retired.

Invest Early And Often – Time your buys to coincide with tax days, when you'll minimize your capital gains. Purchasing mutual funds with turnover of over 100% can also help.

Diversify Your Holdings – Maximize your ability to deduct your losses against your wins by deploying a "tax harvest" strategy.

Maximize Your Individual Deductions – Consider a second mortgage on your primary home as a means to reduce your income for the year.

Keep Up With Your Expenses – Sometimes, the best way to reduce your tax burden is to spend a bit less.

My True Story

In 2009, I was a senior at Penn State University. I wanted to graduate with minimal debt, so I set a goal to pay off my loans within two years.

Conclusion

For a while, you will be miserable while working in a corporate job if that’s not what you want to do.

Eventually, you will learn the skills that will allow you to enjoy your job in life.

Learn how to set your own goals for your work and your life.

Learn how to analyze the risk involved in starting a business.

You need to be self-disciplined in order to keep your current job and start your next business.

Make a decision and take action.