The national debt has soared to insane heights, our credit has sunk like a stone, and with Steve Jobs’ resignation, the apocalypse is clearly upon us. Seems ridiculous to even consider one’s financial future these days, but we here at Made Man like to think big picture. Hell, a lot of millionaires emerged from the Great Depression, right? So here are six expert tips for how to retire at 55. (P.s.—Poor Jobs just missed it. He’s 56.)

1. Put some money away each month.
It might seem obvious, but setting cash aside is critical. “If you’re 20 or 30, start saving a few hundred dollars a month and you can be a millionaire by the time you’re 55 or 65,” says from Todd Huettner, owner and president of Huettner Capital. Sure, you might not be able to afford that Ferrari you’ve had your eyes on, but early retirement demands sacrifices, and compounding interest will leave you living large later in life.

2. Buy a house and collect from your roommate.
Younger people might be hesitant to buy a house in the current economy, but Huettner advises that you go about it the smart way. If you buy a house and bring in a roommate, a.k.a. tenant, that person can essentially pay your expenses for you. As Huettner observes, “If you’re going to have a roommate anyway, why not be a landlord and have him help you pay for your mortgage?”

3. Earn money for nothing.
Self-employment might seem risky, but it helps if you want to leave the workforce early. Huettner says that money needs to roll in even while you’re kicking back enjoying your twilight years. “You need to own a company that you’re not really working for that’s still sending you checks,” explains Huettner. Another possibility? Have a non-retirement based fund that you can draw on once you’ve stopped working. Toward this end, we highly recommend marrying a hot Paris, er, heiress.

4. Reduce your debt.
This is another tip that may seem obvious, but if it were so simple then people wouldn’t struggle with credit troubles. Huettner suggests that people take out 15-year loans on homes instead of 30-year loans. That method can save people a fortune, and they can put that money to use elsewhere. Also, pay your credit cards in full each month and pay cash for cars, with the possible exception of your first car. “For many people, that means they’re not going to live the lifestyle that their friends do or that they otherwise would,” Huettner notes. While your buddy lounges in front of his 60-inch flat panel TV, just remember that down the road you’ll be vacationing in the Bahamas while he’s stuck behind a desk.

5. Make a budget.
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. All these pearls of wisdom will be useless if you don’t have a plan to execute them. “You can’t do any of these things without a budget,” Huettner said. “You have to have a plan. I know it’s an ugly word. It’s boring. It’s not fun. The bottom line is you’re probably not saving any money if you’re not budgeting.”

6. Expect the unexpected.
“One of the worst things you can do is to overlook the unexpected,” cautions Radon Stancil, author of Take Control of Your Retirement Plan. “Do not forget the impact inflation will have on your finances and plan for needed income increases.” Create an emergency sh*t hits the fan stash for when problems pop up, so that they don’t draw on your main fund. Then get to work figuring out what you’re gonna do with decades of free time. May we suggest running for president and fixing the damn economy? Quickly, please.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking for short-term solutions for the crappy economy? Check back tomorrow for some money-saving magic.