How to retire early if I have no money

It is common to ask how to retire early if I have no money. This seemingly straight forward question actually has a wide range of possibilities and also masks a hidden danger. Why do you have no money in the first place? So, let me go through the different scenarios and analyze your early retirement plan under each situation.

Negative savings

This is super dangerous terrority. If you are in this category, it means you are spending more than what you are earning every month. It is an emergency and you need to start cutting your spending drastically. Forget about early retirement. This is about getting your financial health in shape to even begin starting your early retirement journey.

Spend too much

People in this category tend to have either low wages or high spending. For Singaporeans, I suspect it is the latter. I see people still buying new cars when COEs are at least 50k. That is sheer insanity. Imagine if you have not purchased the car but have saved all the money including purchase price and interest. You will have at least 120k. At 4% returns, will yield SGD4,800 in a year. If you need SGD20k a year to survive, that is already 25% of your passive retirement income right there.

If you are in this region, start to look at ALL your expenses closely. You need to cut everything down until you achieve positive saving every month. Don’t let the problem snowballed into something that you cannot manage in the future.

Earn too little

If you fall into the unfortunate group of having too little income, then it is time to look at what you do. My advice is to (i) get a higher paying job, (ii) some part time job during weekends, (iii) start a side income online.  It might sound hard but any of the above is doable. In fact, they are not mutually exclusive, meaning that you can do all three and really see a nice rise in your income.

Typically, it doesn’t take much to see a difference in your saving rate if your spending is low. For example, let’s say you can survive on SGD1000 per month. It doesn’t take much to earn more than SGD12,000 in a year. A blog, for example, can easily generate 100-200 dollars per month if you work on it for a year.

Is able to achieve some savings monthly but not much

People in this category wants to inquire about how to retire early with little cash savings or monthly income. If this describes you, then my suggestion is to exercise your frugal muscles. Learn how to survive on SGD1,000 if you are single or SGD2,000 if you have a family. It can be done.

Many of your current spending can be reduced if you are determined.

  • Why you need a cable subscription if you have watch free tv on the internet?
  • Why do you need to eat at restaurants when there is cheaper and better food in the hawker centers?
  • Why spend SGD500 on your car or bike mortgage when you can take the MRT?
  • Why do you need to drink starbuck coffee everyday?

If you are determined to spend less and retire early, you can do it. It is a matter of whether you want to start exercising those frugal muscles.

In saving aggresively, you can either (i) pay down your debt and reduce your monthly expenses or (ii) invest more money into creating a higher passive income stream .

Either way, you are on your way to an early retirement because you are close to the aim of having your passive income exceeding your monthy expenses.


There is always a way out of a tight situation. Of course, you need to make hard choices in your life but you might find that you will better off in the long run if you do that.


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