Submitted by Tim Iacono via The Mess That Greenspan Made blog,
It wasn’t immediately clear that the usage of the word “Un-American” in the title above was appropriate, that is, until reading this definition at Wikipedia:
Un-American is a pejorative term of U.S. political discourse which is applied to people or institutions in the United States seen as deviating from what are widely perceived to be fundamental American cultural and political values
Now, there are clearly no politics involved here. Rather, it is the deviation from well established cultural values, namely, ratcheting up your lifestyle at least as fast as your income rises, that makes those who choose to spend much less than they earn during their working years a candidate for retiring early as detailed in this USA Today story.
As with most journeys, retiring early starts with a few simple steps, the most important being this: You have to calculate - there’s no getting around it, really - how much you’ll need to fund your lifestyle for as long as you (and your partner) will live. This won’t be easy because you don’t know just how long that will be.
But what you do know is this: Retiring early means calculating more years into the equation - say, 30 instead of 20. For the average American household, that could mean saving an extra $400,000 or so on top of what you might already need for a traditional retirement plan.
Once you know your “number,” there are only two other steps to commit to memory: Start saving and stop spending. Put another way: Live not just within your means, but well below, says Rick Miller, president of Sensible Financial Planning in Waltham, Mass.
Living “well below” your means really is un-American – it goes against the fundamental American cultural values of consumerism and debt.
I’ve often said that a large part of the U.S. economy is driven by people buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have and, while some may point to that as being a great post-World War II success story, it results in millions upon millions of people who might never be able to call it quits as part of the traditional work force.