One Thousand Days of Early Retirement

freeport-bahamas-oceanview

1,000 days ago I retired early without really knowing it.  When I walked in the office on the morning of August 26, 2013, I didn’t know it would be my last day of work forever (probably).  I suspected something might happen to me on that Monday because another coworker was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated the previous business day and housecleaning often happens in clusters.

I spent the first hour of that day catching up on emails from the previous week that I missed while I was on vacation in Chicago.  Then I jumped on a quick 9:00 am conference call to discuss the financial model for a new toll road proposed for the southern part of town. Then BOOM! The boss walked in the door with a fistful of bad tidings.

By 10:00 am I had my walking papers in hand along with a cardboard box containing the detritus collected over the course of a few years of office work.  Down the six flights of stairs I walked, the elevator being condemned at the moment by the Department of Labor for excessive safety violations.  Out the back door and to my car I strolled, wondering “what’s next?”.  I found the corporate Ipad in my trunk that HR forgot to ask for, briefly questioned whether they would ever miss it (probably not), then did the right thing and turned it over to my former employer.

Once out the door I messaged Mrs. Root of Good and broke the bad (at the time) news.  I got fired.  Looking back at that email chain, she didn’t seem particularly concerned. Her responses, in chronological order:

  1. “What? Are you kidding?” (getting fake fired would have been a superb prank!)
  2. “Oh well, guess you won’t be getting that interview after all huh?” (I was one of two short listed by the guy that fired me for an internal promotion)
  3. “Are you picking the kids up from school since you’re free?” (of course I had plenty of free time!)
  4. “Ok.  Well, time to collect unemployment and look for a new job.” (done with respect to unemployment and done but to no avail with respect to a new job)

That’s what the household discussions sound like when you’re FI, live on less than one income, and you get fired unexpectedly.

That afternoon I started checking The Plan – our two page outline of our early retirement financial plan.  After a summary review, I quickly realized we were FI enough that I didn’t have to go back to work (though I did make an effort to find a new job pursuant to our state’s rules on collecting unemployment benefits).

Before the sun set on that fateful Monday in August I decided I was early retired (unless a job offer I couldn’t refuse walked in the door).  Mrs. Root of Good began making plans to leave her job too.  In early September I started Root of Good since I had always wanted to “do something online and computer-y” for many years but never had time between a full time job, kids, computer games, and a hectic TV-watching schedule.

Stop and smell the roses

Stop and smell the roses

In the early days, there was still some nagging uncertainty about the whole early retirement thing.  Would it really work out okay financially?  Can a 33 year old really get by in this world without a job (hint: having a million bucks helps a lot!)?  That doubt and uncertainty is 99.9% gone today (the remaining 0.1% represents my Plan E or F – go back to full time work).

Mrs. Root of Good initially decided to stick around to take a three month paid sabbatical the following summer and pick up a raise and bonus in the meantime.  The three months paid time off didn’t happen in 2014 but she did receive five weeks paid time off and a promise that she could take the whole three month paid sabbatical the following summer in 2015.  And so began the limbo period of Mrs. Root of Good’s pre-retirement career.  Work a little longer, get a raise and bonus.  Work just a bit more than that and get a month or three paid time off.

After completing the three month’s paid time off in 2015, Mrs. Root of Good finally submitted her resignation.  She didn’t escape from limbo though.  Her employer cajoled her into staying by offering a flexible work schedule consisting of what turned out to be mostly 24-30 hours per week working from home for full time pay.  After milking that sweet set up for six months, Mrs. Root of Good finally quit for real (for really real this time!) in February of 2016.  As I celebrate my 1,000th day of early retirement, she celebrates her 107th day.  Yes, I quit working 893 days before her, but I think after all her paid maternity leave, sabbaticals, and flexible working schedule we are roughly even on the “lifetime total days worked” metric.

Mrs. Root of Good's new hobby - photography

Mrs. Root of Good’s new hobby – photography

 

 

What Early Retirement means to me

These first 1,000 days have been amazing.  Looking back at some of my old posts outlining what I was up to in the early days of early retirement, it’s clear how much fun I was having from day one.  It’s also been a very busy period of life, and not only because of our three kids.

In The Early Retiree’s Weekly Schedule I outlined what I’m up to in a generic, average week:

early-retirement-daily-schedule

One year after publishing that article, I haven’t really deviated from the bones of the schedule other than I seem to be busier volunteering at the kids’ school and spending more time on our now-four year old and his busy schedule and less time blogging (sorry, readers; life happened 🙂 ).

Staying busy volunteering at the kids' school

Staying busy volunteering at the kids’ school

When I do the occasional media interview, I usually get asked “what’s it like to be retired early?”.  I stumble and pause and then start listing off the rather mundane things I have on my weekly schedule.  Then close the answer with something like “basically everything that working folks do on the weekends except my weekend lasts seven days”.  I don’t intend to gloat or brag, but rather to be as descriptive as possible because early retirement on a regular day is very similar to the weekend while working.

Not sure where to categorize this on my schedule. Work/chores? Kid time? Fun?

Not sure where to categorize this on my schedule. Work/chores? Kid time? Fun?

And then there are the multi-week vacations made possible by early retirement.

In 2014 we spent two and a half weeks on a road trip to Canada:

During the summer of 2015 we spent seven weeks in Mexico:

two-years-early-retirement-mexico

This summer we will pack up our new (to us) minivan and head out on a 3.5 week trip west to Kentucky and Tennessee, then north to Detroit and Toronto before returning home through Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C.

Watching the kids grow up and being at home the whole time is the biggest change since retirement.  When I retired the kids were 1, 7, and 8 years old.  Now they are 4, 9, and 11.  Each one of them has grown and matured significantly in the almost three years since I quit working.  The passing of time is particularly visible with our four year old.  When I quit working he was a baby turning into a toddler.  Now he’s running around, riding a bike, surfing the web to Netflix (he knows how to type “N-E-T-enter” in the browser bar), and being generally autonomous all day.

Oatmeal. Breakfast of champions

Oatmeal. Breakfast of champions

Hiking at the local city park

Hiking at the local city park

 

Finances

When I retired in August of 2013 our net worth was around $1,250,000.  Net worth continued to climb for the next 18 months before plateauing just above $1,500,000 for the past year.  Part of the early rise in NW came from Mrs. RoG’s income and part came from increases in the stock market.  My unexpected income from this blog also contributed a small share to the net worth growth.

We tracked spending very carefully and only spent $34,000 in 2014 and $24,000 in 2015.  Not bad considering we completed a major exterior renovation project in 2014 that included all new vinyl siding, new windows, and a major roof repair.  We also took multiple international vacations each year.

Crafting a spicy chipotle alfredo sauce. Great way to keep food costs low while still enjoying good grub.

Crafting a spicy chipotle alfredo sauce. Great way to keep food costs low while still enjoying good grub.

Since our net worth increased over the past few years, we decided to try to spend more money.  The long term goal is to spend around 4% of our portfolio value each year (the “4% rule”).  After reducing our $1.5 million net worth by our home value ($150,000) and another $200,000 to cover lumpy kid costs (braces, teenager auto insurance and other added car costs, college, miscellaneous kid launching costs) and other lump sums, we have slightly more than a million dollars left in our portfolio.  Four percent of a million dollars equals spending $40,000 per year if we follow the 4% rule.  That’s exactly what we budgeted for 2016.  The biggest budget additions for 2016 are entertainment and travel spending.  However, if the past few years’ expenses are any indication, we’ll probably spend closer to 3% of our portfolio.

Spending $0 while enjoying a campfire by the lake in the backyard

Spending $0 while enjoying a campfire by the lake in the backyard

Part of our low spending strategy (particularly on travel) centers around travel hacking and credit card rewards.  On our 2015 trip to Mexico, for example, we scored free round trip tickets to Mexico for our family of five simply by signing up for two credit cards (the British Airways card and the Southwest Airlines card, both from Chase).  This year we earned a free week of apartment rental in Toronto and half off a week long Caribbean cruise by signing up for his and hers Barclay Arrival Cards.

We recently sorted out our health insurance situation after Mrs. RoG quit her job a few months ago with the final piece of coverage falling into place in the past few weeks.  The Affordable Care Act played a huge role in keeping our monthly premiums extremely low.  $125 per month is low, right?

I’ve written before why I don’t think we’ll ever run out of money in early retirement and I’m more certain of that today than I was two and a half years ago when I first published that article.  Flexibility is a big key to our security since we have to rely on our investment portfolio for the next several decades before Social Security starts.

Since more than half of our financial assets are held in tax deferred savings accounts like 401k’s and traditional IRA’s, the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder is our magical tool to avoid penalties for withdrawals made before age 59.5.

 

Regrets?

Who has time for that nonsense?

We are having a blast.  Stress is minimal.  I can always go back to work if I want.  We are financially well off and want for nothing.

We are able to travel the world subject to the constraints that come from having two, and soon to be three, children in traditional public schools.

School rocks!

School rocks when you get to play with circuits!

Every day is busy, but not like it was when working.  We choose the activities we participate in and don’t have a problem saying “no thanks” to things we don’t enjoy.

With plenty of autonomy, freedom, and flexibility, what is there to regret?  I can imagine a far-fetched scenario in 20 or 30 years where we realize we don’t have quite enough money and have to go back to work part time or full time.  I doubt that I would regret enjoying the couple of decades between now and then.  It would be like working till a traditional retirement age with a multi-decade sabbatical tossed in the middle of my career.  I’ll take that!

One of the many moments when I don't regret retiring early at all!

One of the many moments when I don’t regret retiring early at all!

 

Looking forward

A more likely reason I would return to paid employment of some kind is boredom.  I can’t foresee it happening, but the future is hard to predict.  I know I’ll have a lot more free time on my hands in another 15 years once our youngest kid is out of high school.  If travel, TV, games, books, and the outdoors don’t keep us busy, maybe I’ll find something productive that also pays.

A friend and former coworker contacted me recently to offer as much work as I wanted with a flexible schedule and 50% more compensation than I used to earn when working full time.  I gave the opportunity a lot of consideration since it would involve working with someone I enjoyed working with in the past and the work itself was engineering consulting for design and construction of our county’s public schools (sort of like volunteering while getting paid six figures).

My answer was that I was having too much fun and wouldn’t be able to fit in the work, even ten or twenty hours per week.  The weather was too nice in the spring and we’re going on vacation for almost a month this summer.  Maybe in another year when our youngest is in kindergarten?  It’s nice to have options and not need to work.

When hanging out with friends, does anyone say "I wish I was working?"

When hanging out with friends, does anyone say “I wish I was working?”

We have thought of retiring abroad but aren’t committed to the lifestyle enough to live overseas full time.  The biggest impediment is the kids’ education because we have some really great free public schools not far from our house in Raleigh.  Perhaps someday the travel bug will bite us hard enough and the resulting infection will make us crazy enough to sell or rent out everything and hop on the next plane south (or east or west or north).

Once again we find ourselves at a crossroads where all directions lead to happiness.  It’s great to have options.

 

 

How close are you to early or traditional retirement (or are you already there)?  How do you see your life changing once you enter retirement?  

 

 

178 comments

  • It’s a beautiful thing! Thank for giving us all hope while we’re trying to get to that point! 🙂

  • Oh wow…. Congratulations on completing 1000 days of early retirement !! Keep these posts coming and try to take out more time for the blog 😉

  • Winning all around. You and Mrs ROG have acccomplished so much its amazing. I LOVE the line ” “basically everything that working folks do on the weekends except my weekend lasts seven days”. I might have to steal it, I get asked all the time what I do in the summer when I am off work and this is a perfect example.

    That would be a hard job to turn down, flexible schedule and more money, especially if it were a temp job. I’d say $125 for insurance is pretty darn good. We have 1 more kid and are paying just a tad more than that per month.

    Mrs. C. and I are between 10 and 15 years out on early retirement. We are on a decent footing now and are saving a ton of money, but retiring before 40 is very unlikely….Okay we MIGHT make it at 39 years and 11 months ;). The good thing about my industry (nuclear contract work) is that I can ramp how much I work per year up or down to a fairly decent degree. I think in 10 years we will have reached F/I but I will still work maybe 10 weeks a year to cover the vast majority of our expenses.

  • Very inspiring!
    I will “only” retire well after 40, but there is still lots of time to enjoy…

  • If there I had any doubt left about early retirement, you made it clear that it’s awesome!
    I have thought about this for some time and wondered whether I’d eventually get bored being on 7-day week-ends, but as you say, no one says ‘i wish i was working’.
    Congrats for making it 1000 days and showing us how great an experience that is. I’m still about 3 years away from that day and looking very much forward to it.

    • I can’t recall a day yet that I’ve wanted to be working instead of early retired. No level of expense account or fancy work perks could pull me back to full time employment unless I was doing something I really enjoyed, it was on my terms, and didn’t interfere with other interests.

  • Congratulations, this is inspiring stuff. I truly hope when Mr. PIE and I retire we get to the point that we simply don’t have time to work. That will be success in my book!

    • That’s a good metric of retirement success. Being too busy to work! I actually look forward to the weeks where I only have 1-2 events on my calendar. Summer is coming so there will be a lot more of those weeks, too (at least until our road trip in July).

  • Congratulations, I love hearing about your post-retirement life. Loved that you used the word ‘detritus’ — correctly. I selfishly want more posts. Would also like to search your archives by tag line/keywords… am looking for ‘compound interest’ on rootofgood right now.

    • Detritus = pretty accurate description of the stuff I took home from the office. Even the stack of diplomas/certificates/licenses in their pretty frames are more or less detritus since I’m not really using them these days (they collect dust in my bedroom closet for the time being).

      As for search, try google site search.

  • Very interesting and informative! But you lost me a little bit when you decided to count Mrs. ROG’s maternity leave as if it were a vacation.

    • I’m not saying it’s vacation. It’s hard work when kids are under 6 months. Just not counting it the same as full time work. I put my time in the trenches on the kid front (full time dad for the littlest from age 1 to age 4 today!), and don’t count that as full time work either.

      Opinions differ but the typical day as a stay at home parent is much more enjoyable than a typical day at work (even if there is an occasional day of being on your hands and knees cleaning up vomit at 4 am…). Not necessarily easier, but more enjoyable. You’re working for yourself and taking care of your own family for one thing. And there are no boring staff meetings.

    • It is vacation- you are doing something for your own benefit (if, perhaps, not immediate enjoyment) that does not benefit your employer. Just because it’s hard work doesn’t mean it’s not vacation!

  • It’s crazy how when you’re not even looking for work you still find some (if you wanted it). I think (read hope) that would be the case for me when I pull the plug. Would make me feel a little more confident about the whole thing. Hope the second 1,000 days goes just as well.

    • Thanks, I hope it does, too. We’ll have a ground shift in about 15 months once the youngest is in kindergarten (and maybe in 3 months if he’s accepted into the all-day preschool that’s kind of a lottery for us). It’ll definitely be fun, but possibly different than life today.

      I’ve had a number of freelance opportunities pop up and I’ve taken on three such roles (but not doing any freelance work currently). I’ve had a couple other “real” job offers and more than one offer to partner on books or other media projects. I imagine if I tried to find work I wouldn’t have too much of a problem doing so in spite of the fact that I was never a hard pushing careerist while working (and I was fired from my last job 🙂 ).

  • Thanks for asking ROG! We are less than five years from early retirement. I won’t be as young as you (45) but my child will still be young enough to really be a part of her childhood! I can’t wait to write this same post 1000 days after retirement. Congratulations on the success you and your family have attained!

  • Looks like I picked a good day to start reading your blog! Great story and congrats on the milestone!

    We are still a ways out from early retirement and financial independence but are chugging in that direction

  • What a blessing to be able to spend so much time with your kids as they grow up. You guys have done well and it is very motivating for me to try to retire as early as possible too. Glad things have worked out so well the last 1,000 days and here is to the next 1,000!

    • Glad to motivate. 🙂 It makes me feel better when I have to turn down the four year old’s request to “play with me daddy! play with me!” and explain that I have to finish up a blog article for publication Monday morning. I don’t think he understands what a blog is. 🙂

  • I’ve mentioned the cost of teenagers to you several times. I wanted to tell you about our weekend since you will be on the road to Canada this summer. Our sons (19 & 17) took a four-day road trip from Florida to Toronto. On their way home on Saturday, a suicidal deer charged their vehicle in upstate NY and rendered it undriveable! They handled it very maturely but getting them home was crazy (ie taxi to local hotel, Greyhound to Pittsburgh, flight home, etc). The vehicle is still in NY and we will have to go back to get it when it’s repaired. I’m glad we had the funds to get them home and they weren’t hurt. But keep this in mind when you hit the road. Unexpected expenses!!!

    • Ouch. Yes, I can see something like that happening to my kids when they get older (“mom/dad I’m stuck in XYZ city/plz send cash”).

      Not sure what I would do if that happened to us while en route to Canada or on the way back home. I guess camp out for a few days in whatever city (at a hotel with a pool), eat the cost of a rental car, and relax as best as possible while the car is being fixed. Otherwise, declare the car a total loss, rent/buy a new(er) car and move on.

      We got stuck in the middle of the Adirondacks in NY state for a few hours with a blown out tire. I couldn’t get the spare out of the tire well (rusted to the car’s frame!) for hours. I was minutes away from giving up, having the state trooper call us a tow truck (cell didn’t work out there) and spend the next couple days in the nearest small town waiting for a tire shop to reopen (we broke down Saturday night on the 4th of July holiday weekend). Not fun, but you manage. We got to Montreal 5-6 hours late, had to call the airbnb host repeatedly as we kept getting delayed. The only slight silver lining is that we bought waaaay too much taco bell during a late lunch so we had plenty of food while camped out on the side of the road and once we got inside our apartment rental. Nothing tasted as good as that microwaved leftover taco bell at midnight (all of us were tired and starving but not wanting to go out to find take out or a grocery that was open).

      • Because of the age of the driver on policy (17), a rental wasn’t an option. But, they got home safely and the rest will get worked out. They loved Toronto and had a great time (they went for a concert). They stopped by Niagara Falls on the way back. Everyone I told said they wished they had gotten to do something like that at their age, so overall, it was still awesome for them. It actually was a frugal trip until deerzilla entered the picture!

        • Deerzilla strikes again. I’ve only had one encounter and fortunately I was the passenger in a pickup truck on a boy scout outing. I believe the small pickup (S10 or similar) was knocked out of commission and it sounded like we hit a tree when we smashed into it (I was asleep until the strike).

          Good point about underage and rental cars. I guess you make do when emergencies arise.

  • Congrats on your 1000 day RoG! I’m nearly at 180 days now….almost 6 months.

    Like you, the only thing that could get me to go back to work would be boredom! For now, I’m way too busy for that!

  • Your life sounds blissful 🙂 It’s motivating for someone like me who is in her 20s and just starting out. I can’t believe I just turned 26!!!

  • Great article! I’m really jealous of your long vacations. I don’t think my employer would let me take more than two weeks off at a time, and that would be pushing it. My dream of driving around the U.S. will have to wait until I retire.

    • Everywhere I have worked 2 weeks straight of vacation would have been difficult (but not impossible). In fact I can’t recall anyone that ever took more than 7-10 calendar days at a time unless they went on family leave. We took off 9 days in 2010 (I think) to visit Argentina and Uruguay. That was hard to juggle projects and responsibilities.

  • Great post, dude! We’re in Morrisville right up the road from yall and we’re in our mid 30’s as well. We’re getting somewhat close to what I would call bare bones FI (i.e. enough to survive) so I love reading about the lifestyle opportunities that await. We’ll add some padding after that initial FI though for future college expenses, entertainments, good Christmases, etc. I see you guys live in a pretty modest house (which I’m sure is by design). I’m curious if you get a few really good years of market returns would you ever consider stepping up in housing? Someday we’d like to move up ourselves at to Holly Springs or Apex (both towns top lists of quality of living in the US). I figure being comfortably FI in one of those towns would basically be the pinnacle of human existence. Keep the posts coming and enjoy your days off!

    • I shudder to imagine living in one of those fancy treeless faceless developments in Holly Springs or Apex. All the driving to get anywhere. No thanks! We’re 5-15 minutes from most places in Raleigh and just a bit further to visit family/friends in Cary. I googled “asian grocery Apex” and only get results in Cary. Same with Aldi – I’d have to commute to Cary or Fuquay to go grocery shopping (or pay a lot more for groceries). For us, I would say Apex/Holly Springs would be downgrades in terms of lifestyle (though those communities look really pretty in a postcard kind of way I guess).

      If I wanted to spend another $100-200k on housing, I’d probably fix up our current house and outsource every home-related task imaginable then keep the extra $50-75k we would have left over. 🙂 Great location where we are right now. Maybe in the future once the kids are on their own we could move to a nice luxury condo or townhouse to spend that extra $100-200k. Otherwise I can’t imagine moving any time soon. The midtown Raleigh wealth/gentrification is moving east and overtaking our neighborhood right now it seems, so we might be living in a highly desired part of town in another decade.

      • LOL! Aww, we’re in Apex, but luckily(?) in one of the older neighborhoods with trees, horses, and bigger lots. Unfortunately the Town of Apex is trying to rezone the two houses at the entrance to our neighborhood to ‘commercial’. Because apparently what will make Apex better is some office space instead of a historic farmhouse and barn… So yah, “Yay Apex… “

        • Ah, the “other” Apex. I grew up in the “old” part of Cary (ie pre-1980) so I know what you mean. Lots of trees, decent sized lots, inability to poke your neighbor when you lean out the window, etc.

      • That Aldi is right smack dab in the middle of Holly Springs township.. weird that it comes up with a Fuquay addy? I think it depends on what part of town you locate in as far as finding things to do. You should take your fam down there one day for some weekend activities. If you go in with an open mind you might change your tune… it’s really a wonderful community. It consistently ranks in the top 5 for safest places to live in NC, places to raise a family, and most important: affordability!

        I think that’s because it is relatively far out from Raleigh so it’s not ideal for folks with jobs located in Raleigh. Once we go jobless that’ll be the place we strive to land!

        But to each their own! As long as your happy that’s what matters. 🙂

        • I double checked and the only Aldi down that way according to their site is located in Fuquay proper just east of downtown on Main St. Maybe the HS location is new?? Funny how I measure possible places I could live by proximity to Aldi (or similar) plus ethnic grocery stores. I’m stoked – we’re getting a couple of Lidl grocery stores near us in midtown Raleigh. Direct competitor to Aldi in the European market.

          Don’t get me wrong – nothing wrong with the community or area if it’s your thing. I’ve been in and around the town a bit from working on the 540 toll road there. Prices aren’t bad as you’re pretty far out from central Raleigh and yet it’s convenient to RTP if you work there (just pay the toll!). For us it would put us very far away from almost all family and most friends and our usual haunts, and probably wouldn’t save us a ton of $ (houses here mostly sell under $200k for 1400-2500 sf 3-5 BR houses). We’re also on a bus route and walking many places is convenient, so once we get back to one car we have those options (plus uber of course).

          Something about the newer neighborhoods puts me off. As soon as I enter I think “very pretty; lacks soul”. Of course I like the city warts and all, so I’m happy living much closer in to the 440 beltline zone of Raleigh.

  • Wow, 1000 days…time flies when you’re having fun right? Very inspiring and thank you for the practical advice on your blog. As I’ve probably mentioned many times before, the high cost of living here in NYC is my main obstacle. That and the fact that I didn’t ramp up my savings/investing earlier…though that might also be because of the HCOL. I’m still going to reach early retirement compared to the average but we’ll see how early. And right now, I’m more focused on getting to the point where my wife can stay home since we have a toddler and another one on the way. It’s rough when you have two working spouses and little ones! How did you guys do it with the first two?

    • The low COL here certainly helped us reach FIRE early.

      It was tough when we were both working and had two little ones and eventually two elementary aged kids and a newborn. We have family from both sides nearby so they helped some. Grandma was our child care while we worked and only 1.5 miles up the road. Overall, it was a very hectic time. But both of us had flexible work schedules so we could drop the kids of at school and pick them up at 3 in the afternoon (I went in a little later, Mrs. RoG left work early and picked them up). The flexible schedule also meant a 10 minute commute for me (instead of 15) and a 30 minute commute for Mrs. RoG (instead of 45-60 minutes).

  • Congratulations! Your blog article made me do the math and apparently it was 1 year ago yesterday (2 months shy of 40), that I was able to retire. And yeah, it’s amazing how easy the hobbies and chores that used to take up just the weekend, now take up most of the weekdays despite having a work-like project that I’d like to complete. I need to find a fancy scheduling app that knows how to work around ‘nice weather days’!

    • Ha ha, I need to find a google calendar plug in that considers the weather so I can plan indoor activities on crappy days and outdoor adventures when it’s going to be nice out.

  • Awesome Justin. Great read. Keep living the good life 🙂

  • It’s good to hear that things are going great! I think in the next 10-15 years my life will look a lot like yours.

    I’m looking forward to my FI days, and perhaps more importantly, I’m also enjoying the journey. Life is good. 🙂

  • Congratulations on 1,000 days! Sounds like you’ve got ER under control.

    We’re currently trying to figure out if we’re retired or not. We could be if we find a low COL place abroad, but if we decide to live back in the States we’ll need to increase our net worth first. Wish we were in your position, but so glad to be on this path!

    Side note: Italy is amazing and you guys should check it out next summer!

    • I remember the good old days when we had just enough to retire to somewhere like Mexico. It was tempting to pull the plug and go south. In hindsight, I’m glad we kept pushing a few more years and can now afford a luxurious existence in Mexico or similar places, or a decent lifestyle here in Raleigh (a low to medium COL area of the US).

      I’m not sure if we’ll be able to hit Italy next year. We’re tentatively thinking about Europe but unsure what route or even what countries we’ll visit. One possibility is start in Spain early in the summer before the temps rise then head north through France (or maybe head over to Italy then head north). End up in Germany later in the summer when it gets hot.

      • You’re too modest. Your lifestyle in Raleigh is far from decent!

        This is our first time in Europe, but it really is all it’s cracked up to be. We’ll spend some time in Spain this June and likely France after that. Portugal is a very nice place and is quite affordable. We may save a few Schengen days so we can go to Oktoberfest this fall, but our itinerary isn’t set in stone. Looking forward to seeing how the RoG family does Europe someday 🙂

        • Well, I like to think we live pretty nicely but others live so opulently it’s hard to compare. It’s all relative I guess. We don’t have a massive house or brand new luxury cars, but I wouldn’t want those anyway.

          I’m looking forward to how we’ll do Europe too. Never been to Europe so I don’t know what to expect. I’ve spent many months in Mexico so I figure I can handle whatever Europe has to offer (other than price shock in some areas like Switzerland and Paris!).

          • Justin – Any plans to visit India in near future? 🙂

            • Possibly in the distant future. I think the next several years will be summer trips to Europe (possibly more than once), central and/or south America, maybe Mexico again, maybe southeast Asia. We could do an Indian layover if we go to SE Asia.

              I’m concerned about the pollution in the cities. I’ve heard it’s pretty bad.

  • Great post! One question I have is what you plan for your children. I’m in my late 20’s and part of that generation saddled with student debt and unable to even begin to think about making a down payment on a house in the next few hours (especially in the hot areas us young people like be in – e.g. NY, SF). I went to a private college and only because my grandfather had put away savings for all of his grandchildren (though still only a fraction of what it costs over 4 years). Interested to hear your thoughts

    • Definitely not private university unless a rich grandparent wants pay for a full ride!

      Our plans are to pay for tuition at four years of public university (NC State and UNC Chapel Hill being top 2 choices). Room, board, and misc expenses are a question mark – some the kids will pay (student loans, grants, summer jobs, scholarships, etc) some we will pay assuming our portfolio can handle it (notice the reference in this article to $200,000 for lumpy kid costs including college).

      I’m not sure I would steer my kids to NY or SF unless they are in fields that would greatly benefit from living in those much higher COL cities (tech, finance for example, though you can do okay in both in many other cities nationwide). Houses in most of the nation remain very affordable on typical salaries for folks a few years out of college. And I’d suggest renting in NYC/SF instead of spending 0.5-1 million on a modest house/condo.

  • Great post – I am just 50 days into my early retirement (@age 49) and loving it. Great to see your ‘daily schedule’ – looks very relaxed and you have a lot of time for kids. I packaged out of my 24+ year MegaCorp employer in 2012 and probably should have called it quits then I worked another 3 years, which opened up some post retirement opportunities for me, but also three more years of corporate nonsense.

    • Just say “NO” to corporate nonsense! 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying the honeymoon period of early retirement. Although honeymoon is probably a poor choice of words because it only gets better in my experience.

  • Fabulous story! congrats on the 1000 days of FIRE!

  • Congrats on the big milestone! I love that you’ve shared your basic schedule so openly and shown that you’re mostly just doing regular stuff. I feel like we have this idea that our early retirement has to be full of BIG experiences and BIG creative accomplishments ALL THE TIME to be worthwhile, and you keep showing how regular daily life comes with its own enjoyment. (I mean this in a super positive way, in case it came across weird!) 😉 Of course you’ve done lots of awesome travel, too, though as you said, constrained by public school schedules. It’s pretty much exactly the reminder that we need that we don’t need to be traveling constantly to have a great early retirement.

    • Yeah, it sounds kind of boring and mundane when I tell others what I’m up to lately, but it’s also exactly the things that every working stiff wants to do (especially if you have kids and they run you ragged all the time!).

      As for travel, I’m not sure I would want to do much more than we do, especially with kids. Maybe that attitude will change when we are empty nesters, but it’s more work for sure with kids. I can deal with me being hungry or tired, but dealing with that AND kids complaining about the same is a challenge. That’s why we slow travel – not as many long travel days that are difficult for kids.

  • I had a coworker once, a smart man who worked long hours and loved it. He told me – before we both quit – that he missed being a stay at home dad more than anything else, and that if he had the opportunity to do so again, he would in a heartbeat. Kids are a great way to fill the hours and enjoy life, but empty nest syndrome is real. I’ve seen retirees take part time factory work just to get out of the house. Practical lesson: develop hobbies and social networks as a long-term sanity investment.

    This post is very valuable for all of us who aren’t quite sure yet about early retirement. Excellent picture of everyday life.

    • That’s a minor concern of mine. Finding myself an empty nester in 15-20 years and bored or missing something in life. Maybe work will fill my time and provide a built in social network. Not the worst thing in the world to happen to someone!

  • Thanks for sharing your ER experiences. We can’t wait to be at that point in our lives. So far we have about a year to go for FI and maybe about 2 to go until ER. We’re baby planning and waiting to have a child before we call it quits.

  • How do you collect unemployment with a 1.5m net worth?

    • You log onto the Unemployment page and file a claim? Ha ha

      Unemployment doesn’t look at wealth or passive income anywhere in the nation as far as I know. If you lose a job through no fault of your own and you’re actively looking for work, then you qualify. You certify 1x week that you still qualify (finding a job or failing to look for work disqualifies you).

      Us employees are paying for the system indirectly because our employers pay a couple percent payroll tax for unemployment benefits.

    • What you’re describing is called Means Testing, and it isn’t part of Unemployment. It IS part of programs like Medicaid.

      Should individuals with relatively high net worth be eligible for unemployment? I don’t know – I’ve heard this policy debate before. The issues are 1) where do you draw the line (what qualifies as “high” net worth)? 2) what kinds of assets qualify as part of your net worth? Do you subtract houses, cars, or non-liquid assets? 3) Most important, how do you measure/confirm/audit? Even with an army of analysts, the logistics are a nightmare.

      • I don’t think we should means test unemployment. Too burdensome administratively. And beyond that, employees implicitly pay into the UI system through the UI payroll taxes on their salaries. Doing some quick math assuming an average of 2% UI insurance tax rate on my salary and Mrs. RoG’s salary up to the max subject to taxation, our employers paid $15,000-20,000 in UI taxes and I only received $7,000. Even ignoring the time value of money (paying in for 10 years then getting the benefit at the end of the period), it was a horrible deal for us.

        However, it did provide cash flow during my period of “unemployment” such that I didn’t have to sell any assets to fund our basic living expenses. So in a way it served its purpose.

        With means testing, you’ll get way down in the weeds with “what’s an asset?” and “how much can you have?”.

        • I’m inclined to agree. Unemployment is really a type of national insurance in my mind. Would we argue against an insurance company paying a house insurance claim if the homeowner was worth more than $1m? Hell no.

          Do some people abuse it. Obviously. But I think its positives outweigh its negatives, and as long as the abusers get punished I’m ok with it.

  • Wow congratulations, so inspiring. Love how you categorise the ‘child launching cost’. Great to see a dad involved hands on in their child’s education, we need more of you!

    • I struggled with how to account for the higher kid costs from ages 13-21 or so, and figure a large lump sum makes more sense than increasing our annual budget (and withdrawal rate) to cover it. Otherwise we would budget way more than we need after the kids leave the house.

  • So inspiring and totally awesome. I won’t be retiring at age of 33 since I’m already at that age but really hoping I get to enjoy your lifestyle in the next few years or so. Able to spend more time with my wife and the kids would be awesome.

  • Awesome, Justin. We are almost there, too – we won’t have nearly what you’ve accumulated by the time that we retire, though – around $800,000 if everything goes well, but we’ll be living in a 200 sqft home, too, without any kids. I have no doubt it’ll work, and like you said, if I want to get a job at some point in the future, that’s cool. The options are plentiful when you aren’t constrained by a full-time job.

    So looking forward to that sweet, sweet day. 🙂

    • As long as you’re flexible that $800,000 and a 200 sq ft home on wheels will get you pretty far (<– pun ha ha). But yes, I doubt you'll have any problems finding easy ways to earn cash if you want. Doesn't have to be a high paying job/project if your living expenses are moderate.

  • What an awesome journey! It’s great that you can volunteer at school. I’m hoping to do a little of that when our kid is older. Time flies with us too. Our kid grew so much over the past 4 years. Some of his friends at school only see their parents a few hours per day. That’s a tough way to grow up.

  • Great to have an update on how things are going. Being able to spend so much time with your kids as they grow up is just priceless. I’m glad when I was kid my mom was around to share in those special moments you just don’t get back.

    So do you get a lot of questions from the other parents regarding your early retirement? I would imagine they want to know what your secret is?

    Wishing your family all the best!

    Tina

    • The parents we’re close to know about our early retirement. We discuss it if asked but it isn’t a central theme of conversation all the time. I love talking finances so don’t hesitate to dive in deep if someone is serious about it. Otherwise most parents don’t know what’s up I guess. There are a few stay at home moms and some dads with flexible work schedules that volunteer a lot so I guess we don’t seem completely out of place.

  • Nice update. Most of the FI blogs focus so much on the tips and tricks of becoming FI they rarely spend much time expounding on the fruits of their labor. You do it the other way around and honestly it’s just as interesting if not more interesting to see what ER life looks like in a real way. I also like that you have no agenda other than trying to figure the whole thing out and then sharing your experiences.

    I dub you the Will Rodgers of financial independence…

  • Great post Justin! Very inspiring.
    Having time for your kids is a great thing (for you and for them too).
    we’re almost there!! although we could retire now, 2019 is the official date, we want to accumulate more to buy the HdLR ranch! 🙂

  • Elaine Hong Kong

    I think my biggest worry will be paying for my kids’ education and all the extra curricular activities that is necessary….. thanks for writing and I always check back for inspiration and lessons.

  • This story is incredibly inspiring! I lost my job a few weeks ago when it was acquired by another company and the first thing I thought of was “oh crap”. Then I got home and went over the finances with Mr. FE and discovered that, thanks to our goal of wanting to achieve FIRE, I didn’t have to go back to work if I didn’t want to. We don’t have nearly as much as you do as a net worth, but we’ll get there just the same!

  • How time flies. I have been following your blog for sometime now and love how you do serious topics such as health insurance and social security and then great posts on how to enjoy retirement. Terrific balance with your subject matter. Maybe your wife could share some of her photography tips.
    Like you, the one thing I don’t miss is going to work everyday. Have been retired for 4 years as of September and just can’t imagine having to return to the rat race.

  • Bravo Team RoG!

  • What a good post! Couple of things….I for one, think you should be commended for not being angry or negative for your dismissal. Too many times I have heard “rants” when folks have been shown the door. This serves no purpose and can be truly demoralizing. Many years ago, I myself learned a very valuable lesson when I lost a very good job for reasons I still don’t understand. The important thing, IMHO, is that you learn from the experience and move forward….which you seem to have excelled at. Secondly, I will always be grateful that my schedule permitted for me to be involved in DD2’s early education. I put her on the bus and was home when she got home…even for 1/2 day pre-K & K…She still remembers us having breakfast together and then making lunch together…watching cartoons…planting trees….running errands. She graduated college last year and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. And lastly I find it “reassuring” for some reason when I see pics of you cooking and see the familiar Aldi brand . I am a fan of these folks and their “no non-sense” approach to grocery shopping has saved me both money and time. Thanks once more for the timely update….

    • I was a little bitter initially (“who are they to let me go; I’m awesome!”) but my dismissal was part of some larger unseen shift. Rumor has it that our state Legislature wanted to clean house and me and my buddy were the two (out of about eight total staff) that got let go. Then the guy that fired me got fired shortly thereafter supposedly because he filled my position with a couple of his buddies when the Governor had his eye on those positions for his own cronies. I’d love to know the real story but it’s probably not as interesting as the rumors and myths. 🙂

      That’s cool about the time with your daughter. We are both fortunate to spend exactly that kind of quality time with our two older daughters (frequent visits to their school, breakfasts and lunches there), lots of travel, lots of short local day trips around town.

  • Glad that your first three years of FIRE have been a blast! Also, it was good talking to you the other day – the early retirement consultation was well worth it (free plug. 😉 ).

    • Thanks, Rafi. It was a pleasure talking to you, too. Always good to hear others who have a solid plan for FIRE and make it happen!

      So far I think I’m batting 1000 when it comes to satisfied clients as there are always some actionable items/tasks that come out of the sessions that lead to saving money/time and/or peace of mind.

  • You show an excellent point here; the best of life is to spend your days with the family not in an office…

    WELL DONE!

    • Most definitely! The only thing about my last office job that was incredible was the view (being in the top floor of the tallest building on the northeastern corner of downtown).

  • Although I personally commend you and wish you even further success, I can’t but think about how unfair life continues to be for those that go without.

    Refinance your home and get the lowest possible offers! BUT IF YOU WENT THROUGH MEDICAL TROUBLE OR GOT A DIVORCED THAT’S OUT THE WINDOW, SORRY BLAME YOUR LIFE CHOICES, CLEAN UP YOUR ACT. Sign up for credit cards, and travel free! AGAIN, IF YOU ALREADY HAVE GREAT CREDIT. Get into the low income bracket and pay only $125 medical for the whole family, get subsidized for the rest instead of subsidizing others! OFFERS LIMITED TO RETIRED MILLIONAIRES WITH LOW ASSET TO INCOME RATIO ONLY. Teach your kids at home yourself and make them smart for practically free! FIRST BETTER GO GET A HIGHER DEGREE PREFERABLY IN STEM YOURSELF, BECOME SMARTER THAN YOUR KID’S SCHOOL TEACHER, THEN TALK…

    I actually, like you, take part of many goodies that are offered to people of above average means, so this is definitely not an attack, it IS rational to go at it all, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy and learn from all the early retireds’ blogs like yours, please don’t be mad at me, but I really feel like the System is starting to wear the less advantaged people down to the point where it is really difficult to bounce back, and I fear for what further polarization might do to society every time we bless ourselves and count our luck.

    PS I know you yourself came from modest backgrounds, and I don’t disagree at all that we all have to own up at some point and not blame our parents or whatever, that people still have a chance to work hard and make something of yourself, but education was more accessible and got better subsidized back then, and there was more social mobility. There is definitely a luck factor that some generations and some social groups have not been blessed with, and it saddens me that we “have-more’s” have adapted so well to the Exisiting Rules so successfully partially at the cost of other people who have no idea what is going on…

    • I can’t say that it’s any worse today than it was in the 80s and 90s when I grew up. Today computers are dirt cheap, internet is fast (and free at the library) and online courses (Coursera and Khan Academy) are free. With relatively little effort, our kids took an extra grade level of math over the course of a few months by working it 20-30 minutes per night a few nights per week. Yes, you can dismiss this as us being privileged, but I would say we are focused and like to get ahead when possible.

      There is a strong component to realizing that these great opportunities for advancement are out there, and as to that I definitely agree we (the RoG family) have an unfair advantage. Though much of what we know today we learned on our own the hard way! Public K-12, public universities and grad schools, etc.

  • Great article. I’m kind of jealous but on my way there. I calculated the other day that we’re 86% there, precisely. Sadly our number varies (we were 94% there at the end of last year) because of the stock but also because of the fluctuations of the Yen (we plan to retire in Japan).

  • I am so happy to hear how well it’s going. We’re in the midst of a bit of a whirlwind FIRE travel adventure, but I do aspire to slow things down eventually. There’s a lot to be said for relaxing, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and just enjoying it. Thanks for being a continued source of FIRE inspiration!

  • I am far from early retirement, and I loved this piece. Thanks for sharing your version of how life can be. It’s nice to be able to stay home with your family and contribute so much time to your children’s development.

  • Congratulations on all your success in retirement so far! It sounds wonderful and is inspiring to see all the opportunities and lack of stress that FI brings. I’m probably there myself, but for now I continue to work to give us a little additional cushion. I’m thinking more and more that I might come to regret this in the future though – and am beginning to consider taking the plunge into a very different lifestyle! Thanks for sharing such a detailed and thoughtful post!

    • It really comes down to being comfortable. Some require a larger cushion than others. I definitely wouldn’t advocate for jumping into early retirement with just barely enough (unless you’re okay heading straight back to work if things don’t go well in the market). The psychological stress of worrying about money will eat you up!

  • Wow! You look like quite the chef… I enjoyed the retirement schedule you have, helps put a shape on what life might look like for my wife and I who have a FIRE date of 7/4/2022. Love the site!

  • So happy for you! My vice is that I want to live where I want to live. And that is not cheap!!! I can’t think of a FIRE hack for those of us who like to live in what happen to be fancy areas now. Mountain towns, the cooler cities…they will all break the bank.

    Open to any advice!

    • Mountain towns that aren’t high cost of living? Not sure just how much you want in the form of culture or amenities, but there are undoubtedly a wide range of low to moderate COL mountain cities/towns out there. Asheville comes to mind locally, though it’s probably “moderate” COL. Plenty of other places in Appalachia that are much cheaper (though wouldn’t suit my needs for city living 🙂 ).

      • Lol. I meant western mountain towns…but perhaps I should try Asheville! I love altitude, but Utah and Colorado are crazy expensive.

  • Excellent story. That’s great that you spend so much time with the kids and enjoy your day to day life so much.

    You certainly handled getting laid off exceptionally well.

    It really looks like you have all your ducks in a row and have thought and planned really well.

    I’ve also been retired for 3 years and have also been really enjoying it. I retired at 60 so no early retirement here. Instead of young kids to enjoy and spend time with, we have 2 grown kids and their families in town, My wife and I spend parts of 3 days babysitting our 3 grandchildren and have our kids over for dinner once a week. You could always eventually add that to your empty-nest phase.

    Anyway, great stuff!!

    • Sounds like a nice life you have now! I figure we might be in that position in another 15-20 years if the kids stay in town. Hard to predict the future though. 🙂

  • Hi there,

    Who would have thought you’d be going this path early in your life. I mean who would not want to spend walking at the beach on a nice fine weather whenever they want to, or taking the time to smell those sweet flower when you got no more paperwork to worry about.

    Good thing you made that wise descision.

    Take care man

    • Apparently there are some out there that “love their jobs” too much to ever consider early retirement. That’s great but I unfortunately never found those jobs while working! And now I have found a better alternative to working altogether.

  • Congrats on 1000 days! You are an inspiration to me that this lifestyle really is possible. We happen to be the same age (36) and the stock market uptick yesterday brought me over $1.333M for the first time, so I’m really starting to look for excuses to pull the trigger. 🙂

  • Thanks so much for sharing such an in-depth look at your early retirement. I am “there” but have yet to make the final decision to leave full-time work. I have slowly down-shifted to a much better schedule, but the contracts keep coming in. I have found that the harder I try to leave, the more offers I get… I also know that if I do leave, someone else can have my job(s) which makes it even better for them! Great work and I admire your efforts in volunteering at your kid’s schools. Teachers work incredibly hard and the more help they can get, the better for all kids!

    • As others have pointed out, I was fortunate in a way to get let go suddenly. It took the whole “one more year” out of the equation. Mrs. RoG wasn’t as lucky as it took her around 2.5 years to fully extricate herself from the job.

  • It’s nice to hear your insights 1000 days after early retirement. 1000 days later, being laid off seems make it easier for you to go for retirement all in.
    I found that I suffer the “One more year syndrome.” At 4% rule, I might be ok, but I feel I need more buffer. Hence, one more year turns in to a few years….lol

    • It all comes down to what you are comfortable with. Last thing you want to do is retire with barely enough and realize the market has left you with not enough to enjoy your early retirement.

  • I am just curious about social security if you only worked for 10 years before you retired it doesn’t seem as though you put enough in to get much out. But I am sure that you visited the social security.gov website to get your estimates but they are based on a 30 year work record I believe. But from the sound of it you are not reliant on it anyway. Very inspiring!

    • Here’s my take on social security for early retirees.

      We’ll get a decent SS benefit. Around $24,000 for the two of us at regular retirement age. We would have to work 34 more years to double the benefit. The SS formula helps those with lower lifetime earnings like us receive a proportionally larger benefit compared to what we put in versus a high income earner working for 35+ years.

  • Hi Justin!

    Found you through RockStar Finance! Congrats on 1000 days of retirement! I’m only 365 days in and I’m loving it. Quit my job with my hubby around this time last year (we’re both computer engineers in our early 30s) after reaching FI, and travelled the world for almost a year before coming back home to visit family. We’ll be off to Japan again in about a month and I can’t wait.

    Thanks for posting your “The Early Retiree’s Weekly Schedule”! Very interesting to see what other retirees are doing with their time. Since hubby and I don’t have kids (yet), most of our schedule consists of sleeping in late and sitting around in our underwear. It’s AWESOME. I’m really enjoying this new pantsless lifestyle. Free free to connect with me on twitter (@FIRECracker_Rev) or my blog (http://www.millennial-revolution.com/). I’m always happy to meet fellow early retirees 🙂

    • Sounds like a very awesome lifestyle since entering early retirement! 🙂 I’m looking forward to summer vacation from school for the kids so that I can sleep in 7 days per week.

  • Thanks for this post! I’m trying to decide right now when to pull the trigger (similar NW, no kids, age 30) and how to pursue transition. Your real world example is another nice data point to add to the sample set!

  • The one word that kept coming to mind as I read this is “idyllic.” Also, I thought our annual expenses were low, but yours are astonishingly low! To save me a little search time, could you reply please with a link to a post or posts where you’ve described your living expenses? I need to figure out where we’re going wrong. 🙂

  • Love this! I can’t wait until we reach early retirement 🙂

  • You actually had me reach for a calculator. I am at 1135 days and counting. Nope..l haven’t wished l was back working 🙂 . Curiously, we are in the States right now and l almost have a stomach ache every time l see my old company store..Keep enjoying retirement 🙂

    • Ha ha, I don’t really get any stress at all when I drive by my old office downtown. It’s in the middle of everything so hard to avoid if we head to the museums or state Capitol downtown. I even ran into my old boss’s boss while I was downtown playing a video game on the steps of the Capitol and fortunately he didn’t notice me.

      All I could do was smile as I watched him in his tailored suit surrounded by brown-noser underlings heading back toward some ridiculous crisis du jour as I sat playing my video game.

  • This post is inspirational.

    But to be honest, the beginning freaks me out. If you could be let go as an experienced, valuable asset to your company, then I could get fired any second.

    I am new to my company. My performance is good, but I am NOT liked by management. This article scares me!

    • I worked in a rare environment – as a government employee with virtually zero employment rights (dismissal was possible at any time for any reason or no reason at all). Most companies at least have an employee discipline procedure where you have ample warning that the powers that be aren’t happy with you. Or you get cut during a layoff and receive a severance of some sort.

      I knew the risks going in and probably pushed it a little while I was there knowing that the loss of my income wouldn’t be the end of the world if I got let go.

  • Have to admit the day after Memorial Day when everyone else is at work and I’m relaxing in early retirement is pretty nice! Only thing is your friends are all working so not as many folks to hang w if you dont already have a family

  • Such a beautiful and inspiring story. Thanks for sharing Justin. It is 6 years into my career and I am about $170K now. I think within 10 years from now, I would be able to reach $1M. Can’t wait to tell my bosses to go x yourself. 🙂
    Living for the moment!

    Cheers!

    BeSmartRich

    • Very nice! The first several years are slow going in terms of NW increases. Later on the investments tend to propel the portfolio forward much more!

  • Great posts Justin. You are inspiring many to achieve financial independence. I briefly attained FI in 2007 and left the military for a dream life overseas for 6 months of the year and the other 6 months RV’ing around N. America. Did that for 2 wonderful years. It’s an affordable lifestyle that can be done on less than $30,000 a year and some for less than $15,0000 without the overseas component. Marriage, kids, the 2008-2009 recession, and aging parents changed a few things for us. So back at work for the past 6 years with the same agency. Hoping to achieve FI again soon with a military and fed employee retirement check waiting at age 57 or so. In the mean time, I think what I learned is FI gives you freedom of choice to work or not work, and do what you want, when you want. FU money? In my line of work, I think a lot of people enjoy where they are and what they are doing. Pays to have a choice though.

  • Congrats on reaching a new milestone, 1000 days aka almost 3 years. I’ve followed along a bit and it seems you get happier as time passes aka the pictures and your writing gave it away. So I am about 3650 days away from retiring, I need a bit of luck and a lot of patience to reach FI. Great pics Misses ROG.

    • I’m certainly more comfortable in early retirement today than I was the first six months. Having Mrs. RoG retired along with me is also a nice change for the better. No more accommodating our lifestyle to a work schedule (even if it was very flexible and allowed summers off).

  • Congrats! My first day free is today 🙂

  • Wow! So inspirational! We’re just starting to build our net worth after recently paying off $90k of debt. Luckily I’ve been saving in my 401k for a few years so we’re not starting at zero. Travel is definitely high up there on my list of things I want to do when FI. I also want to spend more time working out. I prioritize work right now over health and think if I had a few free hours available mid-day everyday, I would really get in great shape. Plus, my fiancé is a fitness professional and I don’t take advantage of that at all right now. I never seem to have the time!

    • Great to hear you’ve been putting money into the 401k while paying down debt. Good compromise between tax efficiency and overall financial well being.

  • Your story is so inspiring. I can’t wait to hit FI!

  • Since I dropped to a float position (working 4-10 8-hour shifts a month) my time has filled up so much I am starting to feel like even working this much is a pain. I’m still paying for grad school, though, and we still have a portfolio to fill, but as I grow my freelancing income that does not require me to be logged in during business hours during the week I will be leaving this job behind. My contract requires working 32 hours in a 6 week period and I would like more flexibility to do a big home project or travel.

  • Nice to hear that everything worked out for you so far,i had unfortunate experience of the layoff just this spring and it was tough.Good luck in future

  • Congratulations. I admire your will power to stay true to yourself. I reached FI years ago, but have continued doing my career. I really enjoy it and would do it regardless of financial incentive. But like all things, good comes with bad. I find myself thinking about just stopping everything. Do you miss anything professional related?

    • Can’t say I miss a whole lot about working. The high level stuff was interesting, but actually slogging through the details and getting the job done right and to specifications was just work. Interesting at times, dull at times. An old friend recently contacted me about a part time, make your own schedule kind of job that would pay 2x what I used to earn, and working for a client that’s pretty easy going (worked a bunch with them in the past). I turned the offer down because I’m too busy doing other things I enjoy more.

  • Friendly Observer

    Congratulations on that early retirement! I have a friend in the RDU area who also retired quite young and he’s a staunch follower of the same principles you follow. Looking at your daily schedule of activities I didn’t see exercise/working out. Don’t let the sedentary lifestyle get to you. If I was able to retire early I would devote at least 1 hour to vigorous physical activity every day.

    • That’s our adventure time. 🙂 During the school year I’m also spending 40+ minutes per day walking the kids to/from school which is decent exercise given the hills. Summer time leaves me struggling a bit to get enough exercise but thanks for the good reminder.

  • Just stumbled(linked) to you website from Frugelwoods. Really am enjoying your site.

    We have lots of kids like you(we have 4). How do you determine what activities to gave them participate in? Our kids love sports and are on year round teams(we like to keep them fit and out of trouble).

    • If they are interested we’ll generally stick them in the activity. But we try to keep it reasonable and not too much time commitment such that it interferes with schoolwork or having unstructured free time. So that usually means 1 activity at a time. So far that’s mostly been after school clubs (Science Olympiad and Art Club) during the school year and occasional summer camp during the summer (hard to schedule those given our vacation schedule and the desire to have unstructured fun time during summer).

  • Wage inflation for gen y will only get better for short term. Especially for Stem carriers. Thanks for contributing to the scarcity/demand!

    • For my Gen X/Y peers, I’ve seen too many succeed in their careers and life to think the generation as a whole is doomed. And I’m glad our household can leave a few seats unfilled for the younger generations to fill. 🙂

  • Nice website and interesting to read “how you did it”. I retired at 57 with wife still working until 62. Will also be using Obamacare or its alternative at the time she retires. Paid off all debt several years ago which for us was a key factor in my retirement.

    I have used part of your phrasing. When people ask me how retirement is, I tell them “I’m on a 7 day weekend”.

    Will add you to my reading list along with Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard.

  • Justin, first of all you’re a cool resource man! I’ve followed your journey, commenting very occasionally although must say that you’re a big motivator for all of us seeking FIRE..

    Keep on posting & thanks for reviewing this for us, it’s been one heck of a ride 🙂

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