How to Go from $52,000 to Retired in 5 Years?

Phil Town (author of Rule # 1 Investing) talks about his approach to Value Investing as a way to achieve a minimum (presumably, long-term) 15%+ compounded return in the stock market.

On his blog he recently fielded a question from a reader who asked:

I am 30 years old no debt and have a net worth of $52,000 cash. My goal is to be retired by 35 years old. To reach that goal is now the time to go all in?

Even though the reader doesn’t tell us how much ‘retired’ is, I think it’s worth revisiting Phil’s response:

The time frame is too short to stockpile stocks and be sure to retire in 5.  We need more like 20 to make that work.  So you’re going to trade using Rule #1 strategy and tools.

1.  You’ll live to 95, so retirement is 60 years.
2.  You’ll need at least $50,000 a year in 2009 dollars.
3.  Assume you’re trading and making 30% adjusted for inflation (so 34% or so before inflation).
4.  Assume you’re adding $10,000 a year for next 5 years.
5.  In 5 years you’ll have $283,000 in 09 dollars.
6.  You’ll have to make 18% after inflation to get $50,000 a year in 09 dollars.
7.  Conclusion: Doable, but you are not retired clipping bond coupons on some beach in the South Pacific.  You’re still investing.  Better if you had more in the nest egg in 5.

So, Phil’s basically demonstrated that it’s not doable … at least not with stocks; it MAY be doable with a very high risk (read: great deal of luck) aggressively trading options and / or business startup strategy.

Here’s Phil’s suggested solution:

Q: How to get more when you have less?
A: Leverage.  Other people’s money.

Q: How do you get other people’s money?
A: Four ways:

  1. Trade on margin: 50% loan.  You’ll more than double your return to $558,000.
  2. Trade derivative (options) so your dollar represents only a small portion of the underlying security
  3. LP: Raise $600,000, 34% ROI is $2.4 million in 5 years.  You keep $500,000. Plus you got $40,000 a year to manage it.  This is more or less what Buffett did in the 50’s and 60’s
  4. Put half the money in a startup and help make it go big.
  • … I guess Phil agrees: 5 years from $52k to any number that’s likely to yield a reasonable retirement requires a super-high annual compound growth rate, and that only comes from the strategies that I mentioned earlier; and, of these, business is clearly a better path than trading stocks and options on margin … there’s simply too much luck involved in trying to aggressively mix it with the stock-market pro’s.
    What do you think?
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    5 thoughts on “How to Go from $52,000 to Retired in 5 Years?

    1. “Put half the money in a startup and help make it go big. ”

      This is the one I like, although it’s risky. But not doing nothing is risky also

    2. “Trade on margin: 50% loan. You’ll more than double your return to $558,000”

      That seems like more than enough money to retire happily… I’d recommend that option =)

    3. Pingback: You Have to Prepare for Retirement – Do Not Depend on the Government

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