5 Lessons Learned in 5 Years of Early Retirement

Well folks, today marks five years of early retirement for me.  Flashback: on August 26, 2013 I spent the morning sitting in my office at work, catching up on emails after a week long vacation. Then my boss walks in, says “you’re fired”, hands me the dismissal paperwork and I’m on my way. I spend the rest of the morning at home puzzling over my spreadsheets to verify that I am, in fact, financially independent.

Analysis result: I was financially independent. Our initial budgeted spending of $32,000 per year was only three percent of our total investment balance. In other words, way less than the 4% rule dictates.

Fast forward five years and here we are. Five years older and five years wiser.  Our kids were age 1, 7, and 8 when I retired and now they are 6, 12, and 13! They are very different people than they were five years ago.

Right after I quit working, I was still in production mentality when I started this blog. I always wanted to do something internet-y and the blog was the first thing that came to mind.  After a weekend of googling “how to start a blog” and other extremely basic search queries, I had figured it all out. I registered the rootofgood.com domain name and published my first article on September 11th, 2013.

The first ever comment on my blog came a few days later from Joe at RetireBy40.org. He’s still doing his blog thing five years later and still stopping by Root of Good on occasion! We must have traded messages dozens of times over the years.  Joe, along with many of you, have been a part of my early retired life these past five years whether it was a casual comment on the blog or an email, or an in-person meeting at some point.


Four years after starting the blog I was asked to speak to a group of FIRE-seekers at the CampFI in Virginia.


In the blink of an eye, I transformed from an unemployed 33 year old jumping into retirement three decades prematurely to a 38 year old early retired pro.  During that time I’ve picked up on a few things.  Here are the five lessons I’ve learned after five years of early retirement.


Lesson 1: More Money is Better Than Not Enough Money

So don’t quit work too soon.  If your job isn’t too bad, keep going until you are comfortable with your early retirement finances.

I think it is better to work a year too long and have plenty of money rather than quitting a year too soon and never having quite enough money to let you enjoy all your free time.  The feeling of living on a strict budget is no fun, and not something you want to subject yourself to for the next several decades.  You have to budget for fun stuff, entertainment, travel, recreation, or whatever brings you joy.

The one caveat to this piece of advice is if you plan on earning income during early retirement and don’t mind the burden of NEEDING to work a little to cover your living expenses.

However, some people are stuck in horrible work environments or horrible industries and just need to escape even if they aren’t 100% able to fund their retirement expenses from their portfolio.

Maybe jumping ship early makes sense in that case. It’s not worth suffering extreme hardship when you can transition into a much higher quality lifestyle that also requires you to earn a modest income for a while.

I personally enjoy writing the occasional article for this blog and talking to a few clients each month in my Early Retirement Lifestyle Consulting practice.  But I don’t need the money.


What to do when you’re on vacation and it’s 104 degrees outside? Meet with an Early Retirement Lifestyle Consulting client over skype videochat from our Airbnb in Seville, Spain.


It’s very liberating to engage in those pursuits that are fun and rewarding without the pressure to bring in a certain level of income.  If I get tired of blogging or the lifestyle consulting biz, I can put things on pause indefinitely and move on to other interests. My investment portfolio does the heavy lifting by covering all of our basic living expenses plus a high level of discretionary spending.


Lesson 2: Early Retirement IS The Rest Of Your Life

So make the most of it.

After a few months of early retirement, it suddenly struck me. “This is the REST. OF. MY. LIFE.” I thought.  I worked until I was 33 and I will (most likely) be early retired till the day I die!

I need to focus on the things I enjoy and want to accomplish right now.

Part of focusing on the things you DO want to accomplish is saying “NO” to the things you don’t want to do. I’m getting much better at saying “no” to blog-related requests that might benefit me financially and bump up my traffic stats but don’t interest me very much. I’m not in it for the money after all.

I also say “no” to some volunteer opportunities, which can be harder. Our kid’s school needs help with a lot of things and it could literally turn into a full time (but unpaid) job. We help out where we can but we have to pick and choose which activities we participate in.


Volunteering when I can spare the time 🙂


I’m about to diverge into YOLO-land for a minute. YOLO, for those not down with what “the kids” are saying these days, stands for “You Only Live Once”. It’s the catchphrase for impulsive self indulgent behavior. As in “Hey, looks cool. <insert zero analysis of whether it’s a good idea here> Screw it, let’s do it. YOLO!!!”

I’m taking a lesson from the YOLO-ers. You only live once and the future starts right now.  All those bucket list items need to start happening before you get too old to do them.  In our case that has mostly been travel. Lots of big month(s) long trips across the country and around the world.

I YOLO-ed on a smaller scale when I decided to get a bike back in the spring. I enjoyed riding bikes as a kid and I never replaced my bike after it was stolen during college.

Fast forward 20 years. I wanted a bike but I never spent the time to research what I wanted to buy or how I would use it.  I looked at several options and got bogged down in all the choices related to buying a bike. Screw it, YOLO! I didn’t spend a ton of money but I didn’t buy a $20 used bike off of Craigslist either.


We got new bikes for the whole family.


As it turns out, I’ve ridden the bike many hours since I got it and enjoyed it very much.  I’m outside more, getting some exercise, and saving a few bucks on gas by running errands on my bike. In my case, I have a line item in my annual budget for “entertainment” to cover things like bicycle purchases.  No need to run any “can I afford it?” analysis since I’ve already built it into the budget.



Lesson 3: Work Stress Disappears; Other Stress Remains

Stress reduction might be one of the biggest benefits of early retirement. I went in for a physical shortly after retiring and my blood pressure had dropped 10 points compared to when I was working. I was back down to the normal range!

Work-related stress went away when I quit working.  Even though my job was never super high stress, there were always meetings, phone calls, deadlines, details, reports, office politics (plus literal politics when dealing with our lobbyists), lawsuits, professional liability, public relations, and a handful of other things to take care of on a routine basis.  Goodbye all that stuff. And good riddance.

But work stress isn’t the only kind of stress.  Finances, health, family, friends, and relationships can stress you out. And those stressors continue into early retirement even if you have no job!

The good news is that without a job you have a lot more free time to take life’s adversities head on and address them.  I’ve been rather fortunate to not have too many stressful situations these past five years.

But when something popped up, I was extremely glad that I didn’t have to juggle a full time work schedule in addition to the new stress-beast I had to slay.


Huge stress reliever – taking a walk in the woods in the middle of the week when no one else is on the trails.


I remember from my working days, even something as simple as taking a sick day because your kid got sick would lead to huge headaches: calling into work, rescheduling meetings, pushing deadlines out, and falling short on deliverables.  You have the stress of a crying unhappy sick kid, you need to take them to the doctor, and in the back of your head you know you’re falling behind at the office too.

Now that work is a thing of the past, what used to make for a stressful time has become a simple inconvenience for me. Instead of relaxing at home for the day, I end up at the doctor’s office and the pharmacy. It’s a lot easier to breathe deep, embrace the interruption to your routine, and say “it’s okay, things will be better tomorrow”.


Lesson 4: Don’t Neglect The Social Side Of Life

A lot of people rely on their full time jobs as their main social network. Getting a beer after work with the guys from the office. Going out to lunch during the week. Golf buds on the weekend. I guess it makes sense because you spend more time at work than you do at home in many cases!

What happens when you leave work? For most people, that social network falls apart. The common thread weaving you and your coworkers together is WORK. When you no longer work with your work friends, that common link disappears. Maybe you keep in touch for a while with a few close coworkers but the general trend is that work friends seem to disappear eventually. That has  certainly been my experience.

Plan for this eventuality. Start making friends outside of work before you retire.

Social isolation and loneliness can turn a financially sound retirement into an emotionally draining experience if you don’t have anyone to share it with.


When I started a blog I didn’t think it would lead to real life friends. But it’s turned out to be a good way to meet like-minded people. Thanks to the great folks behind the Enchumbao blog for visiting us in Raleigh!


In my case, I’m more socially engaged now than I ever was while working. In retirement, we have plenty of free time to nurture relationships with friends. What a great luxury!  In fact, sometimes we overdo it and we feel like we need a vacation from hanging out with family and friends.

For those who want to read more, I dedicated a whole article to the topic of loneliness and the social side of early retirement.


Lesson 5: Life is Unpredictable; Plan But Remain Flexible

If you’re into the whole FIRE movement, then you’re probably pretty good at planning and forecasting. I bet you have a spreadsheet open right now, in fact.

Planning for the long term is great. For planning purposes anyway. But the reality is you have to be flexible. Times change, interests change, people change, locations change. The only constant is change.

I’ve seen a lot of changes in what we’re doing and how we spend time since I retired five years ago. When planning for early retirement, I knew we would take more vacations so I added a big chunk of change to the travel budget. I didn’t realize we would ramp up vacationing to a month or two every summer plus a couple of weeks during the school year.


Nine week vacation in Europe. You have to visit Venice, right?  And who’s idea was it to bring a hyperactive five year old along?  🙂


To accommodate our travel plans, I adjusted course after a couple years of retirement. I bumped up our retirement budget by doubling the vacation line item to $10,000 as our portfolio grew larger.  Our fixed expenses are rather low, so any windfall gains can be allocated to any spending category we wish. Right now it’s travel. In the future our priorities may change and we can adjust the budget accordingly.

Or maybe our finances won’t be so rosy. Perhaps our portfolio value gets cut in half during the next recession. In that case, we could reduce our travel spending by vacationing less. Or we could focus on budget travel destinations and get more value for our travel dollars. Flexibility is key.


“Slumming it” in Mexico (at the top of a mountain). If our net worth drops to a mere million dollars, I’d just spend the summer in Mexico every year.  Eat some tacos and climb some pyramids.


Planning too many details into your future life can be dangerous. Consider the vacation-home-as-a-retirement-home purchase. I’ve seen too many examples of people buying vacation homes five or ten years prior to retirement “before they are priced out of the market”.  They proceed to use the vacation home for a few weeks every year. Even if they pay off the mortgage or buy with cash, the ongoing maintenance expenses and hassle add up over the years.

Fast forward five or ten years and they realize they want to live elsewhere. Their interests have changed over the years and their ideal retirement home becomes anything but ideal.  So they have to sell and not always at a profit.

It’s not always best to plan too many details really far into the future. Set yourself up for plenty of flexibility and embrace change as you get older. I’ve found that I’m very good at planning up to two years out and my window of accuracy drops beyond five years out.


Further Reading

Over the years, I’ve written several posts that serve as snapshots of a particular point in my post-retirement journey. Here they are:


I’m looking forward to many more opportunities to do this.


Parting Thoughts

Now that I’m five years into this early retirement thing, I have to say I love it every day.  I still marvel at the fact that human beings have progressed to the point that some of us are fortunate enough to earn a decent income and have inexpensive access to the capital markets so our savings can grow significantly over time.

When we cross the four week threshold for long family vacations, I realize we’re able to do things that most families cannot.  But life’s simple pleasures are no less meaningful. I love lying in my hammock reading a good book for a couple of hours on a Tuesday morning (or any other day of the week if I like).  I can’t complain when the hardest decision of the day is how I spend my leisure time.


Simple pleasures.


What do the next five years hold for me? Hopefully more of the same as the past five years! My oldest child will be entering college five years from now and the middle child will be a senior in high school. Without question, our lives will look a lot different five years from now. Embrace the change!


Where do you see yourself five years from now?


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  1. 5 years already? I didn’t follow you from the very beginning but I have been around for a while. Congrats on the anniversary!

    I’m looking forward to retire myself at some point. Work stress is the only stress I have in life, although that might change when my daughters reach the teenage years 🙂

  2. Congrats on five years Justin! I’m almost three years into my early retirement, and I can vouch that all your lessons are dead-on!

    You guys seem to be doing fantastic!

  3. I’ve been 2 years retired (@ 35) next week and it’s been wonderful. Being able to watch our 4 young daughters grow up is something I wouldn’t trade for any amount of money. We fund our early retirement with rental houses, and lots of them, but we still have all the flexibility. Thanks for writing your blog, it gave me so much direction when I decided to leave the rat race!

  4. I love posts like this that give a little more perspective on what to expect. I’ll be leaving my job at the end of this year and I have a pretty good idea of what’s to come, but not enough folks talk about the realities of what you’ll really run into.

    Congrats on the 5 years, Justin!

    — Jim

  5. Great post. 3 months into FIRE and I agree with all 5 points. Credit card churning starting 2.5 years before FIRE has been a major boost to our travel expenses. Let’s hope that gravy train keeps going.

    1. The rules are tightening a bit but the gravy train seems to keep on rolling! Credit card bonuses are certainly a help to finance our travel budget. I figure we get around $10,000/yr of value out of the various points and miles.

  6. I have been following you since the beginning. Life has taken us in different turns, but I love the inspiration I get from your post! Keep checking in on us too a Following Life’s Breezes!

  7. I just read a similar post at Financial Samurai. His experience is quite different. I think he’s just more driven than the average early retirees.
    My experience is more similar to yours. I love early retirement and I’m okay with this for the rest of my life. 🙂 It’s awesome.
    Five years from now? It’ll be about the same. Our kid just started 2nd grade so it’ll be a long road for us. Once he’s done with high school, life will change a lot more. We’ll figure it out when we get there.
    Also, thanks for the mention! First for the win!

  8. “If you’re into the whole FIRE movement, then you’re probably pretty good at planning and forecasting. I bet you have a spreadsheet open right now, in fact.”

    I DO have a spreadsheet open right now! 🙂

  9. Wow, time really flies when you’re having fun! I remember reading your 1000 days of early retirement post just after I left my job 🙂

    I still find the whole bit about early retirement being the rest of your life a crazy concept, and in a good way! I feel like our 5 year vision is in constant flux as we visit new places, meet new people, and learn new hobbies. But like you, I just hope I get to keep living the same way… and maybe we’ll cross paths and share a beer somewhere in that time too 😉

    Cheers and congrats, keep enjoying the good life!

    1. “Constant flux” – definitely agree there. With our oldest 2 entering college in 5-6 years that’s going to be the name of the game for us. And yes, hopefully we find ourselves in the same place at the same time and can share some beers together. 🙂

  10. Justin,
    Your posts are an inspiration! I’m building my spreadsheet right now, and I have a question for you: How do you plan on paying college tuition for three kids?
    Thank you!

  11. It’s interesting to me how many of these early retirement / life pivot stories start with an outside force saying “you’re fired” vs “I quit.” It seems like many of us need a swift kick in the pants to get moving on something new. Of course, this only works well when you have the money to back it up.

    1. My department got laid off last June. My original plan was to leave corporate life at 54 when my husband retired at 65, but at the same time I’d heard rumblings for so long that we started downsizing, saving money and investing. As a result, I walked away at 50. My husband decided to retire since he could get his pension, and we moved to Florida, bought a condo for cash, and are enjoying life. Some of my former coworkers were able to retire, but most of them had to scramble for new jobs (some, sadly, are still looking)–and they all think I’m weird for publicly saying that the layoff was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

    2. This is exactly what happened to me at my job. A swift kick led me into my early retirement at age 58. Now I am not looking back and ever thinking of going back to work. Amazing how life gives you a wake up call and you never realized it was all in front of you the whole time! Happy and retired!

  12. I enjoy reading the reflections. I think the social life after work is a tough adjustment, especially for those of us who are workaholics

    1. Definitely true. The more you identify with your job, the harder it will be I imagine. I was fortunate to never be too invested in what I did for a living even though it was somewhat enjoyable at times.

  13. Congrats on 5 years of retirement! Like you, I’ve also found a ton of happiness (and well as new opportunities and friends) in retirement. FIRE is one of the few things in life where it absolutely lives up to your expectations. Glad we got to know each other through this FIRE community and can’t wait to see what the next 5 years of retirement will bring for you!

    1. Yes – great to meet up with you and Bryce through the years, and looking forward to more really bad apple pie and really good German beer (or whatever is local) in the future! 🙂

  14. It’s amazing how time flies. I literally remember reading your blog post about one month into your early retirement life. I’m glad things have worked out nicely for you. You continue to inspire many. Keep up the good work

  15. Congrats on reaching 5 years of being successfully and happily retired.

    The early retirement part may not be for everyone, but having the luxury to choose how to invest time certainly should be.

    Everyone should aim to have the option of spending a Tuesday morning attending a work meeting; puzzling over why the left peddle won’t fit on their kid’s new left crank; or wishing they’d remembered to wear shoes after climbing up a Mexican mountain!

    Thanks for sharing these great insights, and taking us on your journey through early retirement.

  16. I have two Google spreadsheets open at all times! How did you know that??? Are you spying on your readers? LOL. One is Our Investment Portfolio and the other one is FIRE At A Glance. These are the only two spreadsheets I need, to see where we stand on the path to FIRE and what our portfolio holdings are! I agree with so much on this post that I don’t know where to even begin. Thanks for providing a glimpse of what early retirement can look like for any of us.
    I agree that it’s better to retire with more money as long as the job is bearable and not too stressful. My wife and I have really good jobs with low stress, when compared to other corporate jobs, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re still working until now. A few years ago, we weren’t too happy with work and did think about pulling the plug much earlier but things got much better.
    Now, we’re only a few months away from early retirement and are happy to have cushioned our investments so that we can continue to enjoy our lifestyles without having to stick to a strict budget. Funny enough, I haven’t been budgeting for a while and we end up spending almost the same amount every year. I’m more interested in tracking the expenses, as many in the FI community do including you, just to see where our money goes.
    I just took three weeks off to care for our newborn and got a little taste of what it feels like to not worry about a job. I even lost track of days but I can probably attribute that more to caring for the baby than being away from work!
    We’re honored to be mentioned here. Thanks for including us and we hope to be able to drop by again after we take our little girl on the road with us.

    1. Exciting times! It will be so nice to be FIREd with the little one. Juggling full time jobs and babies is very tricky (as I’m sure you’re learning rapidly at the moment 🙂 ).

  17. Congrats! I just stepped into early retirement on my 52nd birthday in July. And I’m enjoying it so far, however, I’m still unsure how I’m supposed to fund it. Do I start liquidating investments to pay for the cost of living? Or do I now start redistributing my assets into income-generating stocks?

    What’s your take on that? And did you enroll in COBRA? I’m still undecided because the cost is quite high.

    1. I retired at 52 as well…funded with a pension and a summer side hustle as a National Park Ranger. I use that money to top off our two IRA’s. You asked about how to fund your retirement and gave two options; liquidate investments or turn some into income generation assets. The third option is to do both. You could also pick up a fun job, golf course, movie theater, pet shop, hobby shop, outdoor store. Lots of benefits like meeting new people, store discounts, you don’t spend down your assets so fast, and could possibly add to them…just pick something fun…heck, make compost or pick up soda cans…Don’t fall for the “Well if you have a job, you aren’t really retired.” As for healthcare..luckily, my spouse still likes her job, so she picked me up on hers. However, I know many families and people with small businesses, that can’t afford huge premiums with Obama care, and go the faith based route with companies like: http://www.libertyhealthshare.org/care?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI17r3s6ij3QIVEr7ACh3vfwBHEAAYASAAEgKEbfD_BwE
      and have positive things to say. Good luck.

    2. I stayed away from COBRA after receiving the outrageous monthly premiums in the packet disclosure. Start shopping around for better healthcare deals than COBRA. Getting readjusted to your new living arrangement and lifestyle patterns takes time to manage your time wisely. I myself focused on income producing stocks and CDs. I also cashed in some long term stocks that had given a great return without running the risk of market downturn exposure. Good Luck and enjoy!

  18. Thanks for giving a great guideline to follow for people wishing to retire early.

    Definitely awesome to see how stress seems to go away once you stop having to work.

    Flexibility is probably the greatest tool to fight our fear of running out of money in retirement. No one is forcing you to take 4% out annually (or whatever number you are initially comfortable with). The key is to get rid of the big ticket items and have them paid off if possible (mortgage, student loans). That way you can be even more flexible

  19. “It’s not always best to plan too many details really far into the future. Set yourself up for plenty of flexibility and embrace change as you get older. I’ve found that I’m very good at planning up to two years out and my window of accuracy drops beyond five years out.”

    You are a very wise young’un, Justin. Am planning to flip the switch in March 2019, and have roughly 50% of my time accounted for with side gigs that I love (the pay is gravy). Am excited to approach the other 50% as though it’s the 2nd half of mystery novel. We’ll just see what happens.


    1. Sounds like a plan – nice open ended mystery to see what happens. Who knows what you’ll get into the next 5 years! 🙂 I’m glad we’ve had a chance to connect here in Raleigh!

  20. Great post! I especially enjoyed the “be flexible” part at the end. I tend to get too bogged down in the details, so flexibility is something I’m always trying to work on.

  21. very nice post, congrats on retiring early!

    Its funny how you mention just laying on your hammock reading your book on a tuesday morning. Reading un a hammock is one of my favorite relaxing activities.

    Sadly im at work Tuesday though. can’t wait to be fire.

    In 5 years, I see a little of the same activitys but hopefully with alot less pressure to work.

    slowly but surely.


  22. You’ve really been through the whole gamut of FIRE psychology. Folks start with an idea, which turns into a lifestyle of optimization, then the boring slog of accumulation, and eventually FI is on the horizon and they realize the importance of considering “the why of FI.” Then they FIRE, and finally they live the rest of their lives, as you call it.

    I started with a great deal of excitement after discovering FIRE through MMM. That describes many of us, of course. When I began to approach lean FI, I began questioning my “why.” Again, it happens to many or most of us. Now that I’m past lean FI and approaching a fatter level of FI, I look at my life and realize a few things. My work schedule as an attorney is down to about 20-25 hours/week. Very few of my friendships are job-related. I already travel nearly as much as I desire. And finally, deep down I know that when I hit that magic number to add “RE” to my “FI,” it’ll probably come with a feeling of anti-climax because I’m already living 75% of my FIRE vision.

    I really enjoy your recent articles focusing on loneliness and now this one about lessons learned post-FIRE. Thanks for creating great content. I hope you continue to feel bloggy for a long time to come. And glad you’re enjoying that bike!

    1. Sounds like you’ve had your own period of self-reflection too! 🙂

      That work schedule sounds nice. Might be worth maintaining that longer term to keep the intellectual stimulation if you enjoy the work. Glad we had a chance to meet in the spring!

  23. Hey Justin,

    Great post as always! I discovered you on The Mad FIentist a couple of years ago and have followed you ever since. My wife and I are probably still a couple of years away from FI but we draw a lot of insight and inspiration from your story and ongoing updates.

    Congratulations on five years and we look forward to joining you asap!



  24. High Fiver! Financial freedom gives us the opportunity to experience life on our terms, and it sounds like you’re doing it correct. You’re writing definitely helps me to get comfortable exploring new things, take a few new calculated risks, and figure out what types of change really drive happiness. Cheers

  25. Great stuff! Someday I will get to take pictures of my feet when i retire early. Ha! YOLO! I would be interested in hearing how you have changed your asset allocation as either you are progressing into early retirement.

  26. What are your thoughts on owning rental properties vs. investing in retirement? My dad financed the majority of his retirement this way. I know others invest 100%. It does make me nervous to have all my money in something that could potentially downturn. With rental property- you have a tangible asset and an income stream. Albeit- some headaches with tenants- potential lawsuits, evictions, etc Just curious on your thoughts…

    1. Rental properties require some business savvy to do things right and turn a profit. Investing in passive index funds is simple in comparison. So I’d say rental properties is a perfectly valid way to make money, though the learning curve is steeper. I chose the “easier” route of owning a handful of index funds 🙂

  27. Congrats on five years of being FIRE’d! It’s been just over two and a half for me, and I can certainly relate to the lessons learned that you’ve listed, particularly #2 and #3. With regards to lesson #2, I’m 39 years old and was fortunate to be able to retire early in Summit County, Colorado, and plan to enjoy the mountains by hiking, biking, and snowboarding on them as long as my knees will allow – YOLO! So if that means spending a few hundred extra bucks for a season pass to more than one ski resort, so be it – my budget allows for it.

    Regarding #3, I wholeheartedly agree – in fact, I might have even accepted a job offer in my former line of work if it weren’t for the headaches such as office politics, deadlines and annoying busy work that inevitably accompany the meaningful work that I would be doing.

    Item #4 is something that I need to focus on. I do find it hard to broaden my social network now that I’m not working full time. I’m planning on getting involved with clubs related to my passions – tennis, art, and snowboarding – as well as seeking out volunteer opportunities in order to meet people that I can connect with.

    1. As for #4 – that’s the way to do it. Look at your interests and find people with similar interests. Local clubs are a great way to do that. Enjoy your retirement!

  28. Very interesting to hear the history of Root of Good. I am FI but still working part time . My job is pretty interesting and low stress and I take plenty of time off for vacations. However, it is nice to know I can quit any time I want. Good luck for the next 5 years.

  29. Justin, it’s great to see you’ve made the 5 year mark of FIRE in great health and great style! Your rootofgood.com website has been fantastic. Please, keep up the great work!

  30. These are the kinds of things I think about when I wonder what hitting FIRE would look like. I love reading your posts and following your journey. It’s very informative and enlightening. Here’s to another 5^n more years of FIRE!!

  31. It’s no “Accident”! 😉

    I assume he’s subscribed and gets fast notifications. Most of my posts go live at 5:30 am Eastern, so I assume he’s awake at that time to comment. I’m definitely not as I schedule these things ahead of time.

  32. Congrats!
    A couple of questions…
    Why do you prefer liquidating taxable account first in the ER?
    Isn’t it possible to skim a little off the IRA that was created to roll the old 401k into and now you do Roth IRA laddering? Or is it more for people to do who’re at the age of 55 and leave their jobs? I’m thinking of terms of having smaller IRAs before age of 70 so that RMD’s are lower, taxes are lower, fees for Medicare are lower, less of SS is taxed. What are you thoughts on this?

    I was surprised to hear that you’re not into blog as a job as compared to other bloggers. They don’t admit that they have a least a part time job (retirement police, yada yada), but they sound so driven of thinking of ways to generate more income through their blogs, creating books or other silly brochures to tease and attract more traffic. It’s so clear that the stuff was created for the money because the material has no additional value for people who’re not rookies to PF blogosphere. Yes, Financial Samurai is one of them. GCC is starting to sound the same way. I kind of this there is being formed a circle of driven people who kind of compete to get more money. It gets boring to read them anymore. But I’m fine with that…I should focus on my own life and not other people.

    1. I’m trying to spend my taxable brokerage account first. But I’m also doing Roth Conversions in the background! It’s all long term planning – shrink traditional IRA space so RMDs are lower is the long goal but the intermediate goal is to create more Roth space so one can withdraw penalty free after five years. Works the same for a 35 yo or a 55 y.o.

      Kudos to those that are more driven than me to make their blog into a business. If anything, I’m seeking to limit my efforts to make money through additional effort simply because I already have “enough”.

      But you nailed it right here: “I’m fine with that…I should focus on my own life and not other people” – You do you. You get to define what you want to do in life, and those other people are presumably doing what they find to be interesting and entertaining too.

  33. Did you really get fired? And after 1-week long vacation? Have you ever seen the move Friday? Talk about flashback 😉

    Lesson 1 is where I am right now… I’m feeling very short sighted. I’m ready to leave any minute.

    Seville, Spain… did I miss that post?

    Older daughter looks just like mom these photos.

    In 5 years… I hope to definitely be out of the workforce and hopefully in much better physical shape!

  34. Justin, Well done! Yours is one of the first blogs I read 5 years ago, along with the obligatory MMM. Though I haven’t retired early, my quest for comfortable FI got a big boost looking at honest blogs like yours. You also inspired me to start my own blog, though my full time job doesn’t allow me to post as frequently as I’d like to.

    May you continue to enjoy your wonderfully executed early retirement and have a supportive family. Here’s to another 5 years coming to discover the root of all good!

  35. I’ve noticed that you went into retirement with most of your assets in retirement accounts and are trying to structure the withdrawals to prevent future RMD tax bill. I’d be curious what strategies you’d take if most of their assets in taxable accounts retiring in their 30’s with kids. I was originally thinking if I still had earned income after retirement to move money into retirement accounts to get to a 50/50 split of taxable vs retirement accounts to shield from lawsuits and the FAFSA expected family contribution. Is there a certain percentage split you’d target by age to have some asset protection and yet still not have to worry about RMDs at 70?
    Thanks love your blog!

    1. I’m trying to front-load my tax savings. I may get hammered by RMDs when I’m in my 70’s and have megamillions in my traditional IRAs. Somehow the idea of having megamillions in my tIRAs and paying big tax bills in my 70’s doesn’t seem like a huge problem though 🙂

      I think my split was 30/70 between taxable and traditional IRAs/401ks (with a little Roth somewhere in the mix). That seems like a good balance for flexibility and asset protection and enough to keep RMDs somewhat reasonable long term. I’m converting to Roth along the way so hopefully the traditional IRA balances get whittled down some by the time I’m 70.5.

      1. So has your allocation decreased from 30/70 then as you’ve spent down your taxable accounts and over time you’ll hopefully have most if not all of your money in Roths and then just withdrawal as needed from there?

        1. That’s the general idea – I’ll slowly spend my taxable account down.

          As it has turned out, I’m making a lot from this blog. That income plus my taxable investment’s dividends is roughly equal to our annual spending so my taxable account sales have mostly gone toward funding my solo 401k. As a result my taxable accounts have grown since retiring! But overall my Roth % has increased the most.

  36. I really enjoy your blog! I have just found you and will read more. Thanks for the inspiration! I have been working as a legal secretary for 22 years and always wanted/planned to retire early to travel and focus on my hobbies and friends. We made a baby 7 years ago and luckily, my firm reduced my full time job to weekly 15 – 25 hours for the past 5 years. I have a sweet taste of a semi-retirement. I would rather make less and have a time luxury. I think I’ll just need to work 15 hours for the next 2-5 years (now 46 y/o). Thanks for mentioning that life is not boring if you don’t have a job. I totally agree. I always look forward to playing good but cheap tennis, marathons, naps, gym, library, Netflix, park, cooking with friends, hikes, etc., Not to mention international travels once per year… C’est la bonne vie! I am not envious of other people’s materials success.

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