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Here are some of the core principles that can help you become financially successful, and retire sooner too.

This list comes from the article How I Retired Early, written shortly after I retired, explaining how I became financially independent. That original article is pretty long, so here are just the action items….

I found that financial independence is made up of one part family support, one part career choices, one part money management, and one part personal habits and attitudes. It’s not a quick or easy list, but there are things here that you can work on every day!

Family

  • If you were fortunate to be born into a family that values integrity, economy, and hard work, be grateful. If not, do your best to create that environment around you now.
  • Work to create a stable, long-term relationship with a partner who shares your financial values.

Career

  • Do work that you love.
  • Identify your gifts, and find a career path that leverages those.
  • If possible, pursue a high-paying career in a technical field. If that’s not possible, at least be aware of the financial and career implications of your college education choices.
  • Look for mentors and long-term professional relationships that complement your skills and personality.
  • If possible, find a job that provides retirement health benefits. (In the U.S., that means mostly government and large company jobs.)
  • Be prepared to work hard, very hard, at certain points in your career.
  • Value communication skills — written and spoken.
  • Get along well with others.

Money

  • Live on less than you make.
  • Track and be aware of your expenses. Figure out the few areas you should indulge to enjoy life. Spend there, and cut back everywhere else.
  • Avoid credit card debt entirely. Pay off car loans early. Hold a 15-year mortgage and/or pay it off early.
  • Max out retirement contributions. Put raises and bonuses into investments, not a fancier lifestyle.
  • Value financial education. Find a mentor, in person or in print, to help you become a confident investor.
  • Adhere to a few bedrock investing principles: diversification, patience, simplicity, low expenses.
  • Compute your net worth regularly, and know your overall portfolio returns each year.

Personal

  • Cultivate patience. Take life one day at a time.
  • When you are the recipient of generosity, make the most of it. Say “thank you” and move ahead.
  • Don’t sacrifice the present for the future. Never postpone quality time with your loved ones, even if it means working longer in the end.

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