How do we measure up? Can we hit 10 goals in 10 years for early retirement?

How do we measure up? Can we hit 10 goals in 10 years for early retirement?

Passionate fans of this site will know I’m not an early retirement zealot but I am very interested in working part-time on my own terms in about 5-10 years from now.  That’s why we save, invest and basically spend money that is leftover as part of our daily, weekly, and monthly financial plan.  We believe that is a better way to budget.

Recently on Retireby40 there was an article about 10 goals to hit if you want to retire early.

I thought I would take this test and see how we measure up – 10 goals to hit in less than 10 years.

Goal 1 – Eliminate consumer debt

Thankfully we’ve largely avoided this debt for extended periods of time although we have had student loans, auto loans and personal loans in the past.  I would agree racking up huge lines of credit; not aggressively paying that down along with holding other long-term consumer debts are not a good recipe for financial success.

Goal 2 – Saving >25% of your net income

I would suspect this is very tough goal for many folks to achieve.  With housing, transportation, childcare and other costs, there isn’t always 25% net income leftover.  Sure, if you want to retire early you need to save early, save often and save at a modest to high rate.  That just makes sense.

Even with good jobs over the years, with good benefits, we have not been able to save >25% of our net income consistently but we have managed to max out contributions to our TFSAs since Day 1.  Combined with our monthly RRSP contributions (my RRSP is pretty much maxed out of contribution room) that’s saving close to 20% of our net income. That’s still pretty good.

We’ll keep working, saving and investing using our TFSAs and RRSPs, until we reach this goal.  After that big hairy audacious goal is realized, and we’re debt free, I believe we’ll very close to considering part-time work for the rest of our lives.

Goal 3 – Have 10x your annual expenses in net worth

It’s another nice rule of thumb I guess but I don’t really buy into these rules.  Ultimately for any retirement, early or semi- or otherwise, you’ll want to do some math on what you spend, what you need to cover those expenses versus relying on any simple ratio.

I know our enough number.  It’s not 10x our annual expenses in net worth.  It’s much higher than that. Your mileage may vary.

Goal 4 – Passive income pays 25% of your COL (Cost of Living)

Unlike Retireby40, we don’t get involved in real estate crowdfunding, rental units or other.  We’ve already been a landlord and only time will tell if we do that again…

This blog generates some income but it’s more like minimum wage – I run it because I enjoy it – not because I’m looking to make a living from it like others.  That may or may not change in the future as well. For the time being, this blog is hardly “passive income” – it takes work.

I don’t think this metric has much to do with early retirement at all.  Instead, I believe the sooner your income sources, whatever they may be; can exceed your expenses the faster you will reach your goals.  Don’t believe the sensational hype around “passive income”.  All forms of income take some form of effort, monitoring or work.

Goal 5 – Have a side hustle

This is not unlike what I wrote about above.  I don’t really have much to add!

Goal 6 – Know how to invest

Investing can take many forms.  I will say that investing primarily in equities (not bonds) inside your registered accounts first (thanks TFSA!) and your RRSP will be a fast-track to retirement.  This is because the sooner you can get that money growing for you tax-free and tax-deferred, the more money you will eventually have.

There are many articles and resources on my site to help you invest better, at lower-costs, and higher returns.  If you can’t find something specific that you are looking for, make sure you drop me a line.

Here are some key pages on my site that will definitely help you:





Helpful Sites


Goal 7 – (Plan for) those big lumpy expenses

The article suggests most of us will have “lumpy expenses” at some point in our life.  Bang on.

This is why we keep this amount of money in our emergency fund.  $hit happens and you should have some cash on hand when it does.

This goal has nothing to do with retiring early but has everything to do with being smart with your money and planning ahead, whether that applies to emergencies, planning ahead for your kids’ education, or other major expenses.

Goal 8 – Stable family life

Easier said than done but this is certainly an enabler for financial wealth.  The reality is, we all have ups and downs during our lives.  Not everything goes to plan when it comes to family, friends and/or personal relationships.  Things only change.

I can only advise (based on my own experiences) to be true to who you are and true to others about who you are in the process.  This will help you be as stable as possible in your relationships with others.

Goal 9 – No bad habits that can derail your life

Do you play the lottery all the time?  Bad idea really if you don’t already know.

Using some simple grade-school math saving just $25 per month on lotto tickets, every month, every year, for 40 years, could add up to almost $50,000 more in your bank account.  Seriously.  Don’t gamble often or at all.  Wouldn’t you rather have $50,000 in cash instead?  I know my decision.  The choice is yours.

Other sin activities that will rob you of your financial health and general physical and mental wellness are as follows:

  • Frequent drinking
  • Smoking habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Use of prescription drugs or other drugs
  • Eating too much junk food
  • Being around negative or toxic people.

These are obvious things you and I both know but common sense isn’t always applied.

Goal 10 – Have (a) FIRE plan

At the beginning of this post I mentioned I’m not an early retirement fanatic even though I’ve written articles about it on my site.

Here is how to get on FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early).

Is FIRE even right for you?

In the latter post, I mentioned that in my mid-40s now, I value and appreciate time more.  While FIRE is something I’ll continue to read up on and give some consideration to – it’s not something I crave.  I want to live a balanced life full of experiences; I’m willing to work (hard) for things I need or want, and it’s important we save some money in the bank for the future.  Those choices may or may not apply to you.

There are some basic ingredients that go into a financial plan here.  Consider these as a starting point for you.


Using the scoring model in that blogpost I think we scored about an eight.  We’re in good shape but not quite there yet.  Then again…

This site is all about our saving and investing journey to financial freedom, educating ourselves as we go and hopefully helping others in the process.  Whatever your financial plan is, whatever mistakes you might make along the way, enjoy the journey.   At the end of the day personal finance success is personal.  That means the biggest takeaway you should take from this article is this:  care less about what other people think you should do with your money and care FAR MORE about the goals you’ve set for you.

Measuring yourself against someone else’s milestones is fine – to a point.

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

21 Responses to "How do we measure up? Can we hit 10 goals in 10 years for early retirement?"

  1. Greater than 25% of net income into savings! Wow that is a tough ask. Between my wife and I our take-home after pension contributions is about £6,100 and we aim to save around £2,180….wait…surprisingly we are managing to save a fair whack but still it’s very tough. We don’t spend an awful lot – ie one holiday a year under £2400. My car is 11 years old and the wife’s is 16 years old. The trick seems to have been keeping our mortgage low

    1. That’s why you can save:

      “My car is 11 years old and the wife’s is 16 years old. The trick seems to have been keeping our mortgage low.”

      Don’t get into tons of debt with your cars and house.

  2. These 10 goals sound great but they are not easy to achieve, who would not want early retirement? Of course, everyone does. But life is not perfect, there are many consideration and habits that are hard to remove. I hope I can achieve at least 5. That would be a big achievement for me. I hope I have the capacity to retire in at least 15 years from now.

  3. Oh, actually I will not not be able to FIRE anyway as I am already too old for FIRE I guess. But I assume if one can retire before 65 that’s still nice. 🙂

      1. I guess as long as one can retire with enough saved, and still with good health, it is GREAT.

        Although I am seriously planning for retirement in 4 and half years (more than half year already passed since I began this, time is so fast), I might still work after that. I might be ready financially then, but might not be ready on all aspects. The other day I was not able to work due to some technical difficulties and I felt quite bored.

        1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

          Agree with this. Great health and enough $!

          If that’s the case you may want to start thinking now about what you’ll do in retirement and start some hobbies/interests etc that you think you would want to carry on through the years! Or also continue to work a bit like you mentioned.

        2. “Although I am seriously planning for retirement in 4 and half years (more than half year already passed since I began this, time is so fast), I might still work after that.”

          Nothing wrong with that – at least you’ll have the choice May and IMO, that’s great. Well done 🙂

  4. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit


    #2 Would not one have to include contributions to a company pension plan as part of that 25%? I’d consider it as part.

    #8 I’ve seen divorce and pre-mature death derail a lot of financial plans.

    #10 I’d argue that if a person was pursuing 1-9 then they already have a “plan”.

    1. Hey Lloyd,

      I suppose I could include my contributions to my pension as part of my 20-25% net income savings but I don’t. Maybe I should to your point. With yearly/annual TFSA ($11k total) and monthly RRSP contributions we’re running about 20% net income. If we can max out my wife’s RRSP contribution room by the end of 2019 that would be ideal. It would be nice to have both TFSAs and both RRSPs maxed out. Then debt in the coming years might be the only problem to solve for semi-retirement by age 50-55 range.

      #10 – totally 🙂

  5. The only thing I check right now is whether or not the income generated from our portfolio can cover our expenses. In addition of that, I also add some expense that will occur after retirement (drug, dental and vision care e.g. without an extended health insurance). Also need to be prepared for lump sum expense like my kids’ education.

    No side hustle what so ever, two full time demanding jobs plus two young kids, we are already exhaustive when we go to bed.

  6. Funny how people like to make list… often on their own opinions, or what might work for them. I like to read them looking for a good tip or two. Most points here make sense, but no gems!

    1. Ya, no real surprises here Paul but I did find my self-assessment interesting in that I didn’t always agree – especially the passive income from a blogger’s perspective. Nothing is free 🙂

  7. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

    Mark, I like your approach to these

    Cannew, good answers too. I pretty much agree. I think on #7 its not about debt, just having a reserve for “life’s surprises” so you are financially prepared. #9 many don’t grow through it! #4 isn’t likely or needed for most in retirement unless that is a specific goal

      1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

        A LOC “could” work but its not at all the same thing as having cash.

        One has to start the saving process for repayment from existing income vs already having done that!

        We prefer to have both.

        Different strokes!

        3 more sleeps but whose counting?

  8. #1 Everyone should work towards this goal
    #2 Dumb statement. People should save as much as they can and increase the amount as their earning grow. Don’t worry about a %, just keeping adding more.
    #3 In other words spend less than you earn and don’t worry about net worth.
    #4 Where does the rest come from? Why not have 100% or more in passive income which I believe is a much better goal.
    #5 Why? Does that mean the only way to make it is to have two or more sources of income?
    #6 Agree, but there are many different ways to invest and not all will be successful for everyone. Find one that suits you and stick to it.
    #7 How about not making those big expenses unless they are within one’s ability to handle the debt.
    #8 Tough as you say, but one should include their spouse in all decisions.
    #9 That’s a learning process everyone has to grow through
    #10 Forget FIRE. Certainly plan for your future, work to achieving ones goals but don’t get obsessed with early retirement. Why not work to find a job or work one enjoys or makes their family life better.

    1. #10 was well-stated but I think my generation (Gen X) and the younger generation is hell-bent on FIRE for some reason. I would like to work on my own terms eventually but it’s not like I want to sell our house, live in a 1-bed condo for the rest of my life and call myself “retired” to impress other people….nor will that make me happy.

      #5 Why? I had the same reaction for a “side hustle”.


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