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An Action Plan for Aspiring Early Retirees

David Ning
A retired couple sits on a bench in Enghien-les-Bains, north of Paris, August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Retiring early doesn't just happen for most people. And even those who fall into a huge pile of money via an inheritance or winning lottery ticket can run out if they aren't prepared to properly manage their stash for the rest of their life. Most early retirement celebrations are years in the making, because quitting the rat race at a young age takes considerable discipline and consistent effort. Here's a basic overview of how to achieve an early retirement:

Be comfortable with the lifestyle that early retirement implies. There's no getting around the math. If you want to work less than the typical person, you will also need to spend less than the general public. I happen to be in the camp that thinks freedom is worth much more than material possessions, but you need to come to that conclusion yourself as well.

Learn the merits of passive investing. Everybody who wants to retire early needs to fully understand the benefits of passive investing. Even if you can meaningfully outperform the market and are unable to replicate that return with passive investments, is spending time fretting about investments how you want to spend your days in retirement?

Make a tentative plan. Most early retirees didn't just wake up one day to find out they saved enough. It takes decades of saving and investing in order to accumulate the required nest egg to live the life you truly desire. Don't worry about having the perfect plan, because none exists. Start saving and then revise the specifics as you become closer to your goals.

Retiring early will take commitment. There are ways to avoid temptations, but the world is full of them, and you'll get many opportunities to veer off the path along the way. You'll encounter people with all kinds of material possessions, while others will post their vacation pictures on social media seemingly on a daily basis. But the math never fails. Save more now and you'll have the last laugh when you can afford to quit while everyone else is still on the treadmill.

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