My goal is to have financial independence and be in a position to retire anytime after 45. However, I would need to simplify my life some to accomplish retirement at 45 (a smaller home, 1 car instead of 2, etc).
Financial Independece to me is all about having more choices. I realize that I could get "right sized" at any time in corporate America.
I am a strong believer in low-fee index funds (especially Vanguard). I also like to find easy ways to locate investment $ to fund accounts. Here are a couple of techniques that has helped me along the way:
(1) I get paid 26 times per year which equates to 2 extra paychecks a year. I isolate the 2 extra paychecks and use this money toward funding Roth IRA's (through Vanguard) for my family (wife and I). Any additional amount that is needed to fully fund the Roth is sent in monthly.
(2) I set up a 11 year (34 to 45) strategic plan on excel to accomplish my Financial Independence goal. The goal is to manage to this plan and make adjustments as necessary. It really helped me to put a detailed plan on paper. It showed me where additional funding will be needed. It also helped me see the big picture and create a road map.
(3) After creating my plan, I noticed that more savings would be needed. This allowed me to build in 401K increases into the equation. For example, if I receive a 4% raise next year, the plan is to take at least 2% of the raise to increase 401K contributions.
(4) I set up a 529 plan for my kids through the Iowa state plan. This is a low fee plan that is run through Vanguard. I do not live in Iowa but landed on this plan after much analysis. It will help me to ER if I know that college funding is in place (even though my wife and I fully funded our own college). On a side note, it helps to get Grandparents, etc involved. That birthday and Christmas money can really add up :-)
I would be interested in comments from additional members who have already successfully ER'd. Have a good day.