I've noticed that many of my clients want to focus on their ideas about retirement in our meetings. For many of them, retirement is a time in the distant future. They don't consider that they could reach financial freedom before retirement age by managing assets that earn them income, rather than having to be employed full-time. They could learn from these stories of people who were so successful at saving they were able to retire early.
The NFL Player Who Lived on $25,000 and Retired at 26
John Urschel is a retired National Football League (NFL) player. He played three years with the Baltimore Ravens. He made $1.8 million during that time, but you would have never noticed. Even though he was making great income, he was living on less than $25,000 a year. He purchased a used Nissan Sentra when he received his signing bonus. The car cost him $9,000 while his signing bonus was almost $150,000. He retired from football at the age of 26 to pursue a PhD at MIT.
“The things I love the most in this world (read, math, doing research, playing chess) are very, very inexpensive," Urschel said. He could have easily been lured into a life of luxury, but decided to spend his money and his time on the things he loves. And being frugal enabled him to set his family up for success. (For related reading, see: The Everyday Lives of Frugal Billionaires.)
The Football Player Who Lived on $5,000 Per Month So He Could Travel
There have been a number of “poor-to-riches-and-back-to-poor” athlete stories throughout the years. However, Ryan Broyles is not one of them. Ryan was a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions between 2012 and 1014. Broyles made $2,000,000 in his playing career, but kept a $5,000 a month budget. His goal was to have his investments provide income so he is financially free.
There is one place he likes to splurge. He is not one to accumulate things, but he likes to travel. He’s been to China, Europe and the Caribbean and has a list of places he can’t wait to visit. Being on a tight budget most of the year enables him to experience the things that really make a difference in his life. He understands he needs to compromise on some things so he can afford to travel.
You Can Approach Saving Like These Professional Athletes
Even if you don't make $600,000 a year, you can still approach saving like these professional athletes. There are a number to blogs written by everyday Americans who have decided to live a frugal lifestyle share their experiences.
The Frugalwoods climbed up the ranks very quickly after graduation. They moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and had great careers, but didn’t feel fulfilled with their lives. They didn’t want to work nine-to-five jobs to be able to enjoy the weekend. They took control of their own destiny and set a goal to be financially free by the time they were 35 years old.
They were actually able to reach financial freedom ahead of schedule at the age of 33 by saving about two-thirds of their income. Now that they have reached their goal, they are living their dream in rural Vermont, working on projects they are passionate about and spending the rest of their time on their 66-acre farm and hiking.
For most of us, the super frugal lifestyle might be too much. However, I am sure you can relate to their goal to eventually not have to work for the income you need. Take a second to think about what it would be like to be financially free. Would it be worth the effort to get rid of some excess spending to achieve this goal ahead of retirement?
(For more from this author, see: To Save More, Focus on Your Needs, Not Your Wants.)