The $50 A Day Early Retirement Strategy

early retirement strategy

The $50 A Day Early Retirement Strategy

Grant Sabatier

Founder of Millennial Money. Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. He's passionate about helping others build wealth and is addicted to Personal Capital.

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This is the single most important hack I’ve used to build wealth. It’s easy.

I break down ALL of my money goals into daily goals. I still deposit money every day into my investment accounts and track my net worth for free using Personal Capital.

We as humans aren't wired to think about the future or saving money. Click to Tweet

 

50 dollar early retirementOur minds are built to think about today. Our ancestors weren’t able to comprehend years into the future. This is one of the reasons it’s so hard for us to save money.

 

You’ve probably tried those retirement calculators or have used the retirement projector at Personal Capital. Most of the calculators come out with a number you will need to “retire” based on your inputs and current progression. The numbers are usually big and run into the millions.

When I had $2.26 in my bank account I used one and it told me I would need $1,250,000 to retire. My annual expected expenses are about $50,000, so this also hangs with the common idea that you only need to save 25 times your annual expenses to live off the interest forever.

BUT SERIOUSLY WTF? Who can save $1,272,000 dollars? I was barely able to buy a burrito.

These numbers are so large, they seem impossible to reach, don’t resonate with us, and actually discourage saving. But, backed by academic research, a lot changes when we start thinking about money in daily increments. Learn how I used this hack to transform my savings and reach financial independence.

If are nerdy like me and want to go deeper on this topic check out the research of USC professor Daphna Oysterman here.

There’s an easier way to retire early and reach financial independence.

 

If I could save just $50 every day I would reach early retirement (at 55)

 

I did some calculations and determined I needed to try and save approximately $50 a day in order to reach financial independence in 30 years. It can’t be a coincidence that I needed to save a Grant a day!

It’s a simple calculation I did using a basic compounding interest calculator. In order to get to $1,250,000 I needed to save $50 a day and have an expected 5% annual compounding rate (a pretty reasonable expectation over a 30 year period). Thinking about it in annual terms I needed to save $18,250 a year. Max out that 401K!

But 30 years? Forget that.

Then I started really thinking.

Here is my thought process on the podcast.

If I could save even $51 a day then I could fast track my financial independence. This was a mind-blowing moment for me. I was hooked.

 

I started depositing as much money as possible every day into my investment accounts. I downloaded the Vanguard app and literally make deposits every single day directly into my investment accounts. Some days it was only $5, but I rarely missed a day. When I started side hustling I put 100% of what I made directly into the same Vanguard account. I barely let deposits clear my bank account. The minute I saw the money in there I put it into an investment account.

I got really stoked when I was able to pass the $50 a day deposit threshold. I started to feel in control. I knew that I was ahead. Every day that I deposited more than $50 I was ahead in my retirement savings.

Then I started trying to make as much money as possible every day so I could invest it. I stopped thinking long term and thought every day about making that $50 threshold. When I got a bonus or new client those we just bonus points. BOOM, right into my investment account.

Do your own calculation – you might need a lot less.

Here is how much you need to save per day to reach your number. (Stay tuned – I am turning this into an early retirement calculator and will post here soon).

early retirement 50 dollars day

Depositing money into my investment accounts every day felt, and still feels, like a game. I started crushing it.

 

$50 went from being my daily goal to being my daily minimum. I started depositing $70, then $80, then $100 dollars a day. Then as my side hustles started really taking off I started deposit $500+ a day. Every check I got I put as much in as I could that day, but still kept my daily $50 deposit goal. Then I put $5,000 in a day, then $20,000 and the rest is history.

 

Using this early retirement hack I was able to reduce my 30-year saving plan down to just 5 years and reach financial independence!

 

I still do this to this day. Now I automate most of it and simply have the money pulled out of my account and put into vanguard. My current minimum threshold is $200/day.

But you can start at any level that is comfortable for you. There are a ton of ways you can take this idea and run with it. Try depositing $5/day to start and then increase it $1/week. Trust me you probably aren’t going to miss that extra dollar.

There are a ton of apps you can use like Acorn and Digit to do this for you, but good old fashioned manual depositing via your investment app (Betterment, Vanguard, Personal Capital, or any others) all make it super easy to deposit. I find that doing it manually is A LOT more fun and will get you motivated to escalate your limits.

So that’s it. Start thinking about investing as a daily goal. Then crush it.

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Grant Sabatier
grant@millennialmoney.com

Founder of Millennial Money. Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. He's passionate about helping others build wealth and is addicted to Personal Capital.

55 Comments
  • Kate @ Making it Rain
    Posted at 20:52h, 26 February Reply

    Simple but such a great hack, thanks for sharing! I know how awesome it feels when my automated transfer shows up in my investment account once a month – I can totally see how it would be so much more rewarding to do it manually and daily (addictive, in a good way!).

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 22:00h, 26 February Reply

      Thanks Kate. This one hack changed my life. I hope it helps others do the same!

  • The Financial Tech
    Posted at 22:53h, 26 February Reply

    Awesome hack but did you have a daily cash flow?
    I am trying to transfer money every week since I get pay every week, but I don’t really see what difference it can do to transfer this amount on a daily basis.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:15h, 27 February Reply

      Good question. Yes as my side hustles picked up I started having more frequent cash flow. It’s also more of a mindset, where the daily deposits have made a bigger impact than weekly ones. I tried weekly and would forget, or put it off if I had a big expense. Doing it daily really got me excited and focused on my finances. So for example even when I got a bi-weekly check instead of depositing it at that time, I would wait and put it in at $50 a day so I knew I was sticking to my plan. When there was extra I would deposit extra. Some days If I only have $60 for that day, I’d forgo going out so I could put the $50 in. For me it’s mindset and daily repetition that works best. Hope this helps. Thanks TFT.

  • Peter
    Posted at 05:44h, 27 February Reply

    Good hack. Personally I don’t do this daily, but to prevent myself from overspending when I get my paycheck I put aside the money which I need for special tasks. One third goes to mortgage payment, one third goes to savings account/emergency fund and one third remains for monthly expenses. The only trick in this that I cannot use money directly from the savings account so in case of something emergency expense I need manual work to make it available, and if you have to do something like that you have to have a good reason. Also if there is something left of the money for monthly expenses in the end of the month it goes also directly to the savings. (Please don’t judge me for not investing my savings, unfortunately I don’t have easy access to brokerage accounts)

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:45h, 27 February Reply

      Thanks Peter. It sounds like you have a system that works for you – which is most important. This is just the system that worked best for me and really help bring the idea of “saving enough for retirement” down to earth for me. I couldn’t grasp the huge numbers and I know this trips a lot of people up. It’s just too daunting. But $50 a day seemed doable for me and when I really started maximizing it every day, my investing account really started to build a lot faster than I expected. Where are you located?

  • Graham @ Reverse The Crush
    Posted at 06:36h, 27 February Reply

    Hey Grant,
    I usually just try to save a percentage of my income. However, this seems like it could be a really motivating way to save. Thanks for sharing!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:41h, 27 February Reply

      Thanks Graham. It’s definitely worth testing a few ways. It was always easier and more effective for me to think about hitting a daily savings goal. The daily habit was/is huge for me. But taking the same idea I could also save $350 per week or $1,400 a month and still get there. BUT…… when I do it every day I always try and deposit more. When I tried to do it each week I would be like boom, $350 deposit done! Doing the deposit every day really helps me push it. So some days I was putting in $100 or more – then looking back at the end of the month I would have put in $2,600 instead of just the $1,400 if I just deposited monthly. That’s key for me.

  • Liz@ChiefMomOfficer
    Posted at 05:35h, 28 February Reply

    Love this hack! It’s a great way to break down what seems like an impossible goal, like a million dollars in savings, and see it as achievable through small daily steps. It’s certainly worth a try if you’re finding it difficult to put away money towards long-term goals or financial independence – start with just a few dollars a day and work your way up.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:18h, 28 February Reply

      Thanks Liz!

  • kindoflost
    Posted at 08:40h, 28 February Reply

    We don’t need that much money to retire. The financial industry tries to convince us we need millions to retire safely, but we know people are retiring with so much less. $50k a year is $137 a day! Maybe I am cheap but I can’t imagine spending that much…
    Great post!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:27h, 28 February Reply

      Thanks! I agree. I think a lot of people will need a lot less money than they think. But better safe than sorry right. $50K a year is a lot of money most places today, but who knows what $50K can buy in 30 years.

  • Lars-Christian
    Posted at 09:15h, 28 February Reply

    Great way to break the goals down into daily chunks in a way that makes the goals not just comprehensible, but also manageable for most people. I think everyone who lives moderately comfortable today could probably find a way to finance those $50 per day, either by reducing expenses or by hustling on the side.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:28h, 28 February Reply

      Thanks Lars-Christian.

  • Matt @ Distilled Dollar
    Posted at 10:10h, 28 February Reply

    Great hack! I love this approach of viewing it on a daily schedule. Weekly or monthly can be easy to forget!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:29h, 28 February Reply

      Thanks Matt. A Grant a day makes retirement possible!

  • Steven Goodwin
    Posted at 13:22h, 28 February Reply

    This is great! I usually look at what I can do monthly versus daily… I guess with some minor tweaks I could start upping that!

    When you start turning it into a game and get serious about playing, this can really add up!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 15:10h, 28 February Reply

      Try it! It’s a lot of fun. Thanks Steven.

  • Thefrugalprof
    Posted at 08:59h, 06 March Reply

    Good post.
    I like the idea of it being a game and competing with yourself.
    I’ve been selling stuff on eBay and I transfer money everyday from my PayPal account into my savings account. I think it’s very motivating to see the progress and growing balances.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 21:10h, 06 March Reply

      Nice Frugal Prof. It’s definitely super motivating transferring money daily. I’m happy to hear you’ve been saving your eBay side hustle money. Great call!

  • Kurt Fischer
    Posted at 10:23h, 06 March Reply

    Hey, any strategy that helps us reach savings goals is a good strategy! I’m all for it, thanks for sharing.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 21:11h, 06 March Reply

      Thanks Kurt.

  • Julie @ The Family CEO
    Posted at 13:08h, 06 March Reply

    I LOVE this! I blog a lot about found money and this is a great example of it. I also have a son named Grant. 🙂

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 21:14h, 06 March Reply

      Nice! I’ve met 11 Grants in my life. Most of them were under 10 years old. Maybe it’s getting more popular? My Mom picked it because she didn’t want me to have a nickname. Now she calls me Millennial Money – lol. j/k. Thanks for the kind words Julie.

  • jen
    Posted at 13:25h, 07 March Reply

    Great idea! Think I’ll start this once we get settled in our new place

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 09:34h, 08 March Reply

      Thanks Jen. Best of luck! Let me know how it goes.

  • Miss Balance
    Posted at 16:06h, 07 March Reply

    I love the concept of breaking down goals to make them more achievable. When I first read I’d need to save $1 million to retire I looked at my bank balance and thought ‘this is never going to happen.’ By breaking it down it didn’t feel so overwhelming. Seeing that my current savings rate it will take me 33 years to reach my goal has also been a motivator to increase my income and I’ve been working on that for a little while now.
    + 1 as well for manually transferring money. It’s fortnightly for me in line with my pay periods, however it is really motivating to actually see the money moving.
    Thanks for a great post!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 09:35h, 08 March Reply

      Thanks Miss Balance. I was overwhelmed too and saving daily helped make it more manageable, and accessible to me.

  • Scott
    Posted at 08:45h, 08 March Reply

    My 29 year old son and I both read this post. Mind. Blown. Scott Lara, Jax Fl.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 09:31h, 08 March Reply

      Thanks Scott!

  • Charlie
    Posted at 07:58h, 11 March Reply

    Great idea! We as humans work best when we break the task at hand down to the smallest measurable task. This is a perfect example of that. Thanks for sharing!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 18:35h, 11 March Reply

      Thanks Charlie.

  • Joe
    Posted at 09:52h, 11 March Reply

    I think that’s a great way to save. Personally, I can’t do it everyday, but I’m glad it works for you. It’s just easier for me to do it once per month or something like that. You gotta take it one day at a time.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 18:35h, 11 March Reply

      Thanks Jow. Whatever works – as long as the saving happens. I personally always made excuses when I pushed it to the end of the month.

  • Warren @ Be Smart Become Rich
    Posted at 22:36h, 12 March Reply

    This is a great concept to build a habit and achieve large goals.

    Another way to look at contributions… some plans focus on auto increasing annually. Say your target is 15% and you’re at 10%. Instead of doing a full percent increase each year break it down monthly. 1/12% increase each month. This takes the sting away while you ramp up to your goal.

    Great post.

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 08:29h, 13 March Reply

      Thanks Warren.

  • Sue
    Posted at 22:23h, 19 March Reply

    Grant,
    I currently have a Roth IRA at Vanguard, with I max out yearly. You have motivated me to start the $50 daily strategy! What type of investment account did you deposit your $50 into at Vanguard? Do I pick the investments within this account? Thanks.

  • ct
    Posted at 09:59h, 20 March Reply

    This sounds like a great idea, and I’m sure it is to save daily. However, not many people can reach that same amount, without a tremendous “side hustle”. Most of us 9 to 5’er’s don’t have time for a side hustle or one that pays so hugely. What is your side hustle?

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:12h, 21 March Reply

      Thanks CT. The $50 was my number I needed to hit – there are so many factors that impact what your own number should be. The key idea is that when you transition from thinking about saving once a month to once a day. What worked best for me was investing a little each day until I could get up to the $50 mark. When I started I was only investing $5 a day and worked hard to find side hustles to push that number higher. Most of my side hustles have been focused on digital marketing – you can check out more here: http://millennialmoney.com/best-side-hustles/

  • Gino
    Posted at 12:23h, 20 March Reply

    thanks

  • Dana
    Posted at 14:17h, 20 March Reply

    This is a great tip using human nature. Thank you. I am a complete novice at financing and investing. My biggest question is what kind of investment account do you use? like a mutual fund?
    I save vigorously, but just my old fashioned savings account. I think the key here from reading your article is putting money into an investment account, not just a simple savings account. However, with investment account, isn’t it possible we may lose money if the market crashes? That’s my vague understanding of investment anyway… Or maybe there are more secure ways to have an investment account? Would love to know. Thank you

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 08:12h, 22 March Reply

      Thanks Dana. Yes an investment can always lose money, but the stock market has historically always gone up over any 10 year period. But I always think about investing for the long term, so your personal circumstances may be different. When you think about investing long term, the key is to invest as much as you can as frequently as you can (Google search dollar cost averaging). I invest mostly in low-cost index funds through Vanguard. You can learn more about my investing strategies by clicking here and here.

  • Michael
    Posted at 18:22h, 20 March Reply

    What were some of your side hustles? For millennials, pumping out $18,250 per year (equivalent of $50.00 per day) in after tax dollars would be quite an achievement given the costs of student loans, housing expenses, and living costs that compete for the paycheck. In Buffalo, NY….a single income earner making a gross salary of $40,000 would expect to have around $31,300 after taxes. Less $50.00 per day…that leaves $13,050 for all of life’s living expenses! What was your strategy for building up your salary in order to be able to hit your $50.00 per day goal?

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 08:08h, 22 March Reply

      These ar all great questions Michael. I started at $5 per day and then tried to quickly escalate my savings rate. I did this through side hustling and making money any way I could – even if it was just for small amounts of money, every day I thought about how I could save more money that day. To your point it’s hard to save that much making $40,000, but I hear from readers who do and save at least 50% of their income – it either comes down to choices and sacrifices at that salary level, or making more money by getting a raise or side hustling.

  • Jeff
    Posted at 20:46h, 20 March Reply

    Where did the $1.2MM figure come from? Just curious if this is for a single person and if I would need to multiply by 2 if married. Thanks! Great article!

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 12:01h, 21 March Reply

      I came from me multiplying my expected annual expenses of $50,000 x 25 (which is a baseline calculation of money needed to retire). Annual expenses x 25.

  • Jessa
    Posted at 12:39h, 21 March Reply

    Would this concept be different for someone in Canada? Would someone in Canada use a different app?

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 08:03h, 22 March Reply

      Hi Jessa. I don’t know much about Canada, but the concept of daily saving definitely still applies. You can use whatever investing app you feel comfortable with – the key is to stick with it!

  • julie comtois
    Posted at 17:16h, 26 March Reply

    I am 47 we only make 18 000$ a year so…”only” saving 18 000$ a year?
    What would you suggest? The 50$ a day is good for people that makes 40 000$ a year

    • Grant @MillennialMoney
      Posted at 09:06h, 27 March Reply

      Hi Julie. Start small and increase savings when you can. I started at $5 per day.

  • DividendSolutions
    Posted at 06:10h, 30 May Reply

    Hey Grant,

    i read this article of yours a while ago and it was pure inspiration&motivation for me. – TX – Breaking down the numbers to the daily amount made it seem a lot easier to realize. I cut costs at all corners and reached 50$ a day this year.

    Greetings form Germany,
    DividendSolutions

    • Grant Sabatier
      Posted at 14:10h, 01 June Reply

      YESSSSSS! This is great to here. Keep me posted on how the $50 a day strategy goes this year!

  • Mighty Investor
    Posted at 10:25h, 07 June Reply

    I did exactly this a few years ago. I knew I was going to retire early and wanted to make a final push to pad my overall assets and net worth. So I identified $100 per day for as many days in a row as I could. This was in addition to what I was already saving normally. So it was like finding new ways to save or generate savings. The best were recurring fees that I was able to reduce (like optimizing insurance and cancelling cable), but I also just sold stuff that I didn’t need anymore (like an old snowboard that was actually a collectors item). In two weeks, I managed to unlock $2,800 in pretty low hanging fruit–which worked out to well over $100 per day. I think this approach is so much better than trying to budget.

    • Grant Sabatier
      Posted at 07:51h, 10 June Reply

      Thanks Tom! I’m all about that low-hanging fruit.

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