You may be one of the average people looking for retirement at 65, or you may be someone who is aiming to retire early. If you fall in the former category, here's some inspiration for you and if you fall in the latter category, meet Anita Dhake, your role model.
Anita, a former Chicago-based lawyer retired from her law career at 33, packed up her stuff and started travelling the world. She has been living the dream for almost a year and has travelled everywhere from Australia to Oslo.
In an interview with Forbes, Anita shared how her journey actually started with a “light bulb” moment back in 2009 when she was interviewing for jobs at big law firms in Chicago.
“I remember learning about the salary and asking a friend, ‘If I make four times what the average person makes, can’t I retire four times earlier?”
Despite her friend's reassurance that early retirement doesn't work that way, Dhake went on to prove him wrong.
She got a job when she graduated from law school in 2009, but her firm offered her a deferral year because of the struggling economy and paid her a third of her salary to use as she pleased. Dhake travelled, which escalated her desire to travel more.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life (travel) I just didn’t realise it would come that fast.”
How long did it take her to save?
After a deferral year, she started working in October 2010 and by 2011, she paid off her last student loan. Once she got rid of her debt, her only focus was on saving every penny.
“I hated shopping and was always a natural saver. I brought my lunch to work almost every day. All of my clothes are hand-me-downs from my older sisters. I biked, walked, or took public transportation. I didn’t have a car.”
Her goal was to save $450,000. Within four years, Dhake saved an impressive $700,000, thanks to bonuses and yearly raises.
How did people react?
“Everyone was skeptical, including my mom. That was a major part of the reason I started my blog, The Power of Thrift. I grew tired of explaining my numbers. So now, when people question my life path, I just point them to my website and they can see the proof for themselves.”
“The law firm wasn’t paying me because I knew things. They were paying me for my life. I felt pressured to put work above family, friends, sleep, vacations and everything else,” she said. “At the time, I thought I was getting the better end of the deal — $160k for a year of my life? Heck, yeah! Now, I realise I only have one life and I’ll never get it back.”
Do you earn now?
“The only money I currently make is from dividends (and the “appreciation” from my investments). Eventually, I may try to monetise my website.”
Dhake started travelling in 2013, and her freedom allows her to choose countries that she’s never visited before. She lived in Australia, ate her way through Thailand and enjoyed the lively streets and cultural diversity of Brazil. She is currently visiting Norway, her 49th country, and has no plans to stop country-hopping in the near future.
The money Dhake saved should last about 30 years (at her current rate of spending), and she admits that one day she might consider re-entering the workforce. Working in a factory is one of the items on her “bucket list,” and she thinks that one day it might be fulfilling to start her own business. In the meantime, though, she’s living her golden years, now.
“I’m enjoying traveling, reading, sleeping in — and not working.”
Wish her all the luck!