In the previous four blogs, we’ve discussed the components that make up the DIAL.  DIAL is my simple system for helping people understand how to retire earlier in life. DIAL stands for Debt, Income, Assets and Lifestyle and when you get these four financial items in order, you can retire at any age.

Everything that has to do with retirement planning fits somewhere on your DIAL.  How about social security?  That falls in income.  What about health insurance?  That will fall into lifestyle because it’s an expense.  Everything has its place on the DIAL.

What your DIAL does not address is where your money is specifically invested.  Some people make their money in the stock market or real estate. Others might have the bulk of their assets in their business.  It doesn’t matter how you get there, whether it be the stock market, real estate, your business, what matters in the end is that your DIAL gets in sync.

What should your ideal DIAL look like?

DEBT: Zero debt is obviously the best position to be in. No mortgage, no credit cards and no car payments. But let’s be realistic, debt has its place. A little bit of debt is not bad as long as you have the income and assets to cover it.

INCOME: Multiple streams of income is ideal. However, one large stable income, such as a pension, works too.

ASSETS: You need assets to create income, give yourself an emergency fund and allow for a cushion for future expenses.

LIFESTYLE: We measure your lifestyle by your monthly expenses. How much does it currently cost you to live each month? Ideally, you want to be living well within your means.

DIAL into YOUR Early RetirementThe Debt, Income and Asset parts of your DIAL will set the boundaries of your Lifestyle.  When we take apart the DIAL, you’ll notice that Debt and Lifestyle make up the money that is going out.  Your Income and your Assets are used for money coming in.  Once you know what needs to go out and what you have coming in, you will be able to explore the numbers and get creative to design a doable retirement Lifestyle.

If none of this sounds like you, don’t worry! This is not a zero sum game. If one part of your DIAL is out of order, then it still might be possible to retire early.  However, when you have three or all four parts not in good shape, you’ll need to do a little work.

Don’t fret because the positive of this is that you know what needs to be fixed. In my experience when people finally get a clean and clear read on their numbers so much pressure is alleviated by just getting rid of the mystery. Sometimes we think it’s worse than it is, or we think it’s gonna be harder than it has to be.

And… if you need to do some work and get some things in place, it’s okay if it takes you two or three years to get your financial life in order. That’s normal. This will give you time to prepare other aspects of your life for your retiring early plans.

Next week the book is out and right behind it will be an actual DIAL workbook for folks to use to be able to systematically get all the answers they need to plan properly and get their DIAL in sync to retire earlier.

Live free my friends and DIAL into YOUR Early Retirement