What It Takes to Retire at 36

Lawyer had no cell phone, car for most of his adult life

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 6, 2014 11:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Marc Hardekopf, 37, is no Silicon Valley pioneer or pro athlete; he graduated law school $65,000 in debt. Yet he's already retired, thanks to a combination of wise, early investments and a frugal lifestyle, CBS News reports. He worked as a lawyer in New York City government, maxing out retirement accounts and never making more than $100,000 a year. But he used the money he had strategically: A year after graduating at 23, he started saving cash, which piled up quickly thanks to compound interest; as CBS notes, saving $5,000 a year with a 9% return would bring you more than $2 million by the time you're 65.

"I focus on investment opportunities that have recently performed poorly and are due to generate above-average returns over the long term," says Hardekopf, who's also had help from his wife's work as a former corporate lawyer, CBS reports. But Hardekopf's success hasn't just been about investment know-how: He's also an extremely careful spender. He didn't have a cell phone until 2011 and got his first car just a few years ago. "The biggest regret that most American men have when they're on their death beds is that they didn't spend enough time with their families when they were young," says Hardekopf, who's got a seven-digit net worth. "If I don't have to work, I don't want to."

Marc Hardekopf saved wisely.
Marc Hardekopf saved wisely.   (Shutterstock)
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