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The yearly value of puppy possession: are you able to come up with the money for a hairy good friend?

If you want to retire early, you have two choices:

  • Start setting money aside as early as possible, or
  • Start later and save more

Our FIRE calculator will show you exactly how much you’ll need to save to reach your early retirement goals. You can tweak the numbers to see how much cash you’ll pile up with different rates of return on your investments; changes to your lifestyle and saving habits; or an increase to your income. Crunch the numbers below to see what you need to do to retire early.

The Money Under 30 FIRE calculator

How the FIRE calculator works

The purpose of the Financial Independence Retire Early Calculator is to help you crunch the numbers that will be necessary for you to achieve FIRE status. It can help you to create specific monetary goals, and to know what steps you need to take now to reach those goals.

To use the FIRE calculator you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Your current age.
  • After-tax annual income.
  • Yearly expenses/cost of living.
  • Current investment portfolio amount.
  • Yearly contributions toward your investment portfolio.
  • Your expected rate of return on your investments (you can use the slider to adjust the percentage).
  • Your current savings account balance (from all accounts).
  • The percentage of income you contribute to your retirement savings.
  • Your savings rate of return.
  • Your estimated retirement expenses on an annual basis, including income taxes.

Once you’ve provided the above information, you can hit the “Calculate” button near the bottom.

You will then be shown your FIRE goal, which is the amount of money you should have to maintain your current standard of living once you reach retirement. The calculator will also provide your FIRE age, which is the age when you can expect to achieve FIRE and be able to retire.

Feel free to run different scenarios through the calculator. You may find you’ll need to contribute more money to your investment and retirement accounts, or experiment with different rates of return to meet your goals.

What is the FIRE movement? 

“FIRE” is an acronym for financial independence, retire early. Though it’s most often associated with early retirement — such as retiring by 35, 40, or no later than 50 — it’s probably more about financial independence than anything else. 

The basic idea is to create a situation where you have sufficient income from your investments or other passive sources to enable you to quit your job at any time. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll quit your job, but rather that it will give you the option.

Many who achieve FIRE continue working, but often in very different occupations than they had early in life. Many others simply use the status to create an easier life, that affords more time for personal pursuits, family, and travel. 

Still, others who achieve FIRE, take a year or two off to travel the world, then come home and start new ventures. The point is, once you achieve FIRE all those doors will be open to you. 

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The FIRE concept has become so popular that it’s become a movement all its own. Though it seems most FIRE participants run a blog, website, or some sort of online business, there are many others also operating in the mainstream economy with regular jobs.

Read more: The FIRE movement — how to retire early

How to reach FIRE

The basic idea in achieving FIRE is to live well beneath your means, save as much money as possible, invest it for a high rate of return, then retire or declare your financial independence once you reach a certain monetary goal.

Figure out how much money you’ll need

The first step in the FIRE process is determining how much money you’ll need to have in your investment portfolio to become financially independent. This is largely based on what’s known as the 4% rule.

The theory behind the 4% rule holds that if your portfolio is invested in a mix of stocks and bonds, you’ll be able to withdraw 4% of the portfolio each year in retirement without ever running out of money.

Based on that rate, you can calculate the needed size of your portfolio to be 25 times your annual cost of living. For example, let’s say you need $50,000 per year to sustain the lifestyle you want. Using the withdrawal rate of 4%, you multiply $50,000 by 25, giving you $1.25 million. 

That’s how much money you’ll need in your portfolio to produce the $50,000 annual income you’ll need in retirement.

Of course, getting to that portfolio size will require a series of strategies. Those strategies will include saving a large percentage of your income each month, then investing it at a rate that will produce the desired portfolio size.

Lower your living expenses

For most people, you’ll need to be able to save between 25% and 50% of your after-tax income to be able to retire in less than, say, 20 years. The exact percentage will depend on how much you’ll need to reach your goal. Naturally, if you expect to retire in 15 years, the percentage will need to be higher. 

To do that, you’ll need to cut your living expenses. That may involve more than just clipping coupons and eliminating unneeded subscriptions. 

More likely, you’ll have to live in a home that’s much less expensive than the home you technically can afford. You’ll also need to drive a much less expensive car. And you may need to forgo expensive vacations, frequent restaurant meals, and hobby spending.

Read more: 6 ways to trick yourself into saving more and spending less

Increase your income

It may be that you don’t have sufficient income to save such a large percentage for early retirement. Or, you may simply prefer not to cut your living expenses so dramatically. You may even choose to increase your income to enable you to reach your FIRE goal ahead of schedule. You can do that by starting a side hustle to generate additional income.

Money Under 30 has several articles specializing on that topic:

Spoiler alert: One of the best ways to reach FIRE is to use a combination of lowering your living expenses and increasing your income. If you can reach a point where you can save 50% or more of your after-tax income, you’ll reach your goal much more quickly.

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Invest successfully

If you’re going to reach your FIRE goal it won’t be enough to simply park your money in a savings account and call it a day. Or worse, to leave it in your checking account, where its real value will gradually be eroded by inflation.

You’ll need to hold some money in a high-yield savings account — after all, everyone needs an emergency fund. But the majority will need to be invested in stocks.

Based on the S&P 500, stocks have returned about 10% per year on average, going all the way back to 1926. That kind of return is the reason why stocks will need to dominate your portfolio.

Naturally, there’s more risk when you invest in stocks than in safe bank assets. But the risk is minimized when you’re investing for a decade or more.

Read more: How to invest in stocks: the beginner’s guide to the stock market

Investing platforms to help you reach FIRE 

If you’re serious about achieving FIRE, you’ll need help along the way. That will start with one or more top-level investment platforms. After all, while half the FIRE effort is saving an outsized amount of money, the other half is investing it successfully. The right investing platform can make all the difference.

Below are four investing platforms I recommend to help you on your journey into FIRE:

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed InvestingGet up to $625 when you open and fund with $250,000 or more.

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing gets you started on retiring with no minimum investment. You’ll manage your own portfolio, conducting commission-free trades directly in the app. You’ll have access to tools to help you research thousands of investments, giving yourself an edge as you save for your retirement.

If you’d prefer expert guidance with your investments, and you have at least $500 to get started, you can instead use J.P. Morgan Automated Investing. Your portfolio will be put together and managed by J.P. Morgan’s team of experts.

To get started with J.P. Morgan Automated Investing, you’ll just create an account and answer some questions about your financial goals. You can then begin building and managing your portfolio from your computer or mobile device.

Disclosure – INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

 

You can learn more by reading our complete J.P. Morgan SDI review.

Wealthfront

Fire Calculator - WealthfrontWealthfront is a robo-advisor, providing complete investment management for a very low fee. That management includes automatic reinvestment of dividends, periodic rebalancing, and various strategies to minimize the tax liability generated by investment activity.

You can open an account with just a few hundred dollars, making the service available for even the smallest investment portfolios. The annual management fee is also one of the lowest in the industry. 

One of the big advantages they provide over other robo-advisors is in broader portfolio diversification. While most robo-advisors concentrate on a mix of US and international stocks and bonds, which Wealthfront does as well, they also add real estate and natural resources to the mix, which can improve portfolio performance when stocks are falling.

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Wealthfront also allows for some customization to meet your FIRE goals on your own terms, by adding and removing ETFs of your choice. The Wealthfront Cash Account lets you set monthly expense and savings budgets, then sweeps your account to route additional cash into your chosen investment accounts. This can add a lot of momentum to your investing power so you can meet your financial goals more quickly. 

You can learn more by reading our complete Wealthfront review.

Personal Capital

Fire Calculator - Personal CapitalPersonal Capital offers two different versions. The free version serves primarily as a financial aggregator, where you can sync all your financial accounts on the platform. That will give you a high-altitude view of your finances, as well as provide limited budgeting capabilities.

But the free version will also provide valuable investment tools, like the Retirement Planner, 401(k) Fee Analyzer, and the Investment Checkup, that will do a one-time evaluation of your portfolio and make recommendations to improve your asset allocation. 

If you prefer complete investment management, you can use the Personal Capital Wealth Management service. For an annual management fee — and a minimum investment of $100,000 — they will provide you with human-guided investment management. The fee is higher than that charged by robo-advisors, but it’s well below what’s typically charged by traditional human-guided investment advisors.

One of the major advantages that sets Personal Capital apart from other investment advisories is that they will provide investment advice on your employer-sponsored retirement plan. They won’t manage the plan for you, nor will there be any fees associated with the service. But they can help you with recommendations for lower fee options within your plan, as well as provide portfolio allocation recommendations.

You can learn more by reading our complete Personal Capital review.

M1

Fire Calculator - M1 FinanceLike Wealthfront, M1 is a robo-advisor. But it’s quite possibly the most unique robo-advisor in the industry. That’s because M1 allows you to select your own investments, creating your own portfolios, then it manages them robo-advisor style. What’s more, you can open an account with no money, and there are no fees charged to manage your portfolio. 

M1’s portfolios are referred to as “pies”. Each pie is built around a specific investment theme. You can create your own investment theme, or use one of the predesigned templates. Each pie can hold a mix of up to 100 individual stocks and exchange-traded funds. And there is no limit to the number of pies you can create within your account. 

If you like the idea of selecting your own investments and creating your own portfolios, but you don’t want to spend the time and effort to manage them, M1 is the perfect investment platform for you. 

You can learn more by reading our complete M1 review.

Summary

The FIRE retirement calculator can help you determine how much money you need to retire earlier than you ever thought! You’ll also learn at what age you’ll be able to retire (which depends on how much you want to spend each year you’re retired).

To get to the point where you can retire early, you’ll need to start investing. Above are some of the best accounts to check out if you want to start investing today.

Read more: