NRmagnifyingglass7For many Americans, the very notion of an early retirement is pure fantasy — lots of surveys suggest that a good portion of the populace are convinced they will never be able to retire at all. However, what if retirement saving is not quite as insurmountable an obstacle as you may think? As a matter of fact, the key is to recognize that the decisions you will make are at least as imperative as the amount of cash you earn. In case you want to retire early — or at all — here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

Look for ways to cut on the cost of housing by living in a cheaper area. However, sometimes you may not have much of a choice with regards to housing if your work is in Los Angeles or New York City. In this case, you might need to move a bit farther away from work, provided that the additional commuting costs wouldn’t cost more than potential mortgage or rent savings. Perhaps you can plan to take in a roommate or two; married couples occasionally rent out a room to help relieve mortgage costs.

Another way to retire earlier than friends is by not trying to keep up with the Joneses. The higher cost of a sports car, fashionable wear, or luxury suite or gadgets will siphon tens of thousands from your wallet, and that is money that could otherwise be increasing in your retirement accounts. Also, plan to diversify your retirement investments rather than taking the safest and slowest routes. Real estate and stocks involve some risk, but they will earn more over the course of decades. You will need an emergency fund. That is cash to help you fix a car, pay for a pet’s illness, or replace a broken appliance as opposed to putting such costs on a credit card or worse, borrowing from your 401(k).

The bottom line is that if you want to retire earlier than friends, you need to think about how you will make that happen. Taking control of your spending habits and your decisions is the way to go since hoping or wishing won’t do it.