Mrs. Root of Good Jumps Into Early Retirement!

I’m looking over her shoulder at 4:30 pm on a Thursday while sitting in our home office.  A quick last check of her emails.  A moment’s hesitation.  Is this really it?  A click on the X in the upper right corner of the screen.  Fade to black.

Ten years of work culminating in that final click on the X in the corner.  One chapter of Mrs. Root of Good’s life is over.  Turning the page to a new chapter, she finds the rest of the script unwritten.  Her biggest worry becomes the emptiness of all that white space spread in front of her.

For over a month, it’s been a done deal but I’ve kept it a secret. Unlike the last time she resigned, no negotiation this time around.  She said in her resignation letter it was time to move on.  She is now officially free from the 9 to 5 work schedule.


It was not easy to call it quits.  Her job provided great pay, flexible work hours, work from home, great benefits for the family, and great retirement benefits.  It would be tough to find a similar position even in the same company.  However, she chose freedom and family over helping other people in the corporate world.

It was tough to overcome the brainwashing of having to be useful to society by continuing to work.  What good are you if you’re not contributing to society especially if you are able bodied?  Her thoughts floated around.  What is the goal in life?  Doesn’t everyone strive to be happy?  We work so we can earn money so that we can be financially stable, live life, and be happy.   We work so we can be useful members of society.

She earned enough money to live the life she wants which makes her happy.  To continue to work would be greedy.  Hey, she’s leaving a great position to allow another person to live their dream.  She contributes to society by spending more time to help raise her kids to be good people.  Our kids are our future.


Lady Liberty sheds a tear

Mrs. RoG is living her dream.  Through luck and her parents’ hard work, she arrived to a land of opportunity.  Hers is a true story of rags to riches.  Just like me, she was not raised in a well to do family but quite the opposite.  Her family lived as war refugees in Thailand for over nine years before coming to America.  Mrs. RoG was almost seven years old when she first arrived to the land of opportunity.  Her family arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  Her mom could not read or write with only a third grade education.  Her dad also had an elementary school education but could at least read and write at a basic level (but not in English).

Refugee camp, jungles of Thailand. Mrs. Root of Good, age 5.

Mrs. RoG entered the US not knowing any English.  Unlike her former jungle home in the refugee camp, school was mandatory and free in the US.  However, school field trips were not free and she forwent some trips as she knew her parents did not have the extra cash.  She didn’t even ask them to pay for the trips.  At an early age, she was self-aware that money doesn’t grow on trees and one must be smart with money.

She worked part time jobs through eleventh and twelfth grade.  To continue into higher education, she borrowed money as her parents did not have the money to pay for her college.  At the time, she didn’t know the true benefits of getting a college education, she just knew she had to go to college and luckily she did.  This college degree would open the door to jobs at PricewaterhouseCoopers and her last job at an investment bank.

Through some luck but mainly hard work, she earned enough money to live off and save for the future.  Her goal was not working 40+ hours a week away from home until she is in her sixties and then only have a few years left to enjoy life.  Her goal was to work hard, save money, have a family and spend quality time with the family.

Well done.

Her story isn’t any more noteworthy than the success stories of millions of other immigrants and refugees that landed on our shores over the past several centuries and discovered a country that offers unbounded opportunity to eager newcomers.  In today’s media morass, the groupthink says the American Dream is dead and there’s no point to take responsibility for one’s own future when so many forces conspire to keep the poor and middle class indebted and enchained in servitude.  Mrs. Root of Good disagrees.


What next?

Mrs. RoG is entering her second week of early retirement and enjoying the experience immensely so far.  She’s focusing on relaxing and decompressing during the first few weeks of early retirement.

So far she sleeps in, enjoys leisurely walks in the afternoons, and reads books.  We went swimming one morning during the work week and found the pool completely deserted.  Right before finishing lap #15, a sudden smile sneaked across my face as I realized this is how our life will be forever.  Swimming in the middle of the day just because we want to.

Benefits of early retirement: private olympic size swimming pool at 10:30 am on a Thursday.
Benefits of early retirement: completely empty private olympic size swimming pool at 10:30 am on a Thursday.

I imagine she will loosely follow my own early retirement weekly schedule with healthy doses of leisure and recreation tempered by small bits of work and chores.  She’s been working so little the past few months that early retirement doesn’t look drastically different than her recent experience working “full” time.

In our 2016 budget, I increased the entertainment/fun budget and the travel budget significantly.  Time will tell whether we actually spend more money traveling and having fun, because so many fun activities are cheap or free.

Last night, we spent about an hour looking over summer travel plans and mapped out a 2,000 mile trip from North Carolina through Tennessee and Kentucky, north through Ohio toward Niagara Falls and Toronto, then returning home through Washington DC.  Depending on how long we stop in each place, the trip might be as short as two weeks, or as long as five weeks (or more!).  We are also contemplating taking a break by staying at home the whole summer (a “vacation from vacationing”).  We are rich with ideas and travel funds but flat broke when it comes to commitment.

I just sold my trusty sixteen year old low mileage Honda Civic to someone I know through the Mr. Money Mustache forums.  That’s the answer to “should our family drop from two cars to one?”  The car ran perfectly fine for a sixteen year old car, but we simply didn’t need two cars.  Getting my above Kelly Blue Book asking price out of the car persuaded me that now is as good a time as any to make the sale and get us to the correct number of vehicles to match our lifestyle right now.

Over the coming months, we hope to purchase a larger car like a minivan so that our road trips will be more luxurious.  A seven or eight seater will also come in handy when hauling around the five of us plus a few friends.  The primary purpose of the new(er) vehicle is recreation, so we aren’t overly concerned about gas mileage since we won’t be putting a lot of miles on it commuting to work every day.

In her first year of early retirement, Mrs. Root of Good looks forward to:

  • reading more books,
  • working on reading, writing, and math/numeracy with our three year old, and
  • learning about photography so she can operate our new Canon t5i DSLR camera


Beyond that, we are both looking forward to a lot of relaxation time with the family in the next few months.



How do you envision your first few months of retirement?



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  1. Wow, just wow RoG! I’ve been waiting for this post for quite a long time now. I knew it was coming…and I’m so happy to finally see it! Nearly brought tears to my eyes. You really made a fantastic post out of this. You emphasized what financial independence means to me: family, and having the time to spend with them. Well done sir!

    Of all the personal finance bloggers out there, my family relates the most to yours. Like Mrs. RoG, Mrs. Tako came from overseas. Like your family we came from modest beginnings, and have more than one kid. Like you, we’ve attained financial independence the “hard way”…hard work and savings. Thank you so much for being a great inspiration.

    I’m going to send this post on to Mrs. Tako, hopefully she’ll read it. Congrats to Mrs. RoG on turning this gigantic page in her story.

  2. Such amazing news! Congrats Mrs. Root of Good! I love the idea of taking the first little bit of early retirement to just decompress. I’m sure the decision to finally call it quits is a bit stressful. Congrats again!

    1. She was really stressed about sending the resignation email in December but once it was sent, it was a relief knowing that a certain date was set for her last day.

      1. That is how I felt too! I am 7 months in to this freedom thing – it is intoxicating! Congratulations to all, there are such wonderful times ahead!

        1. I guess it’s natural to be apprehensive. It’s a big change, and all the talking and planning for it can’t help for that instant you actually have to make the leap.

  3. I’m so excited for the 2 of you. Being able to be completely FI so young and focus on building your family up is awesome and inspiring.

    My first few months of EL will likely be full of relaxation and a lot more reading. One of the benefits of my current job is that I’ll get a week or so each month where I’m semi FIRE and don’t have any work responsibilities. I’m still on call though so it’s just semi FIRE. But it’s great little trial runs. I usually read do some writing and if the weather permits take our dog on a nice leisurely 2-4 mile walk. It’s a great glimpse into our FIRE life when we finally get there.

    Congrats again! I look forward to following along with the rest of yalls journey.

    1. That sounds like a nice semi-retirement type lifestyle! I’m hoping we can get outside more once it’s not freezing. It’s been very cold her first week of retirement and it’s sleeting/freezing rain today. But by the end of the week it’s going to be in the 60’s and I’ve lined up a couple days of hiking and some swimming in the mix. 🙂

  4. Congrats! That is wonderful news! I am very happy for you all!

    We are maybe two years away, but I just want to spend the time with my family and kids, and more time reading and exercising. I think the first few months will just be about recovering – getting my mind and body and relationships back on a good path!

  5. Congratulations to Mrs RoG and the whole family! Great work! Your blog has been a wonderful resource to me – my husband and I are on our way to FI, but as we just recently started, it looks to be between 10 and 15 years away. No fear, though, because we are still relatively young, and would be considered early retirees if we hit our number 15 years in the future. As both of you settle into ER patterns, please keep checking up! For me, at least, the financial updates are great ways to look at how your budget, your asset allocation, and how you choose to grow your wealth. It’s also extra relate-able to me because I live near Raleigh!

    Great work and I wish you all the best!

  6. Thank you for this inspiring post. I am so happy for Mrs RoG for taking the step to ER and wish her all the best. Your comment on her not wanting to work 40+ hours per week until her sixties and then have a few years left to enjoy life totally resonated with me. In the past few years, two of my former colleagues passed away, one in his late fifties and the othe at 60, the latter still with his boots on. I am working part-time and enjoying my free time playing sports, reading, traveling and crafting. Life is precious and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

  7. Great post. Very happy for you and your wife. She sounds like a very smart, level-headed individual who knew what she wanted from life, made sure her spouse was like-minded, and made it happen. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    Once your kids are grown your flexibility will increase dramatically. Now you are basically force to vacation during summer months and other school-related breaks. For Deb and I, we do no traveling during the summer when the maddening crowds are out there, and have decided to stay put during December as well. For example, we travel ever month this year until the end of May (pretty much one week each month), stay home and do various house tasks and the like during the summer, and then go out again for a week in October, the whole month of November, and (so far) the whole months of Jan and Feb. The places we go are not as hot here in the South, the people are as usual Southern friendly, and we don’t deal with the hordes of tourists in places like Edisto Island. Besides FI, flexibility is probably the biggest advantage to ER.

    Happy for you both, and look forward to hearing more. Take care.

    1. I’m not trying to rush the next 15 years till the youngest is 18 but definitely appreciate the fact that we’ll be much more able to travel off season then. Traveling during the summer is somewhat restrictive and leaves us visiting places in less than perfect weather and in the middle of dense crowds.

      1. Mr ROG: my mother in law a former elementary school principal has always said “don’t let school get in the way of a good education”! If an opportunity comes up for a mid year vacation take it and have the kids do a report or something. On the ground in location beats a book any day.
        Great story of Mrs ROG, kudos to her family for bringing her here- they must feel pretty good now to see the fruits paying off.

        1. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past few years with our week long cruise to the Caribbean (sometimes twice per year). It’s so nice to get away during the coldest winter months. But more than a few weeks and it might be hard for them to keep up with school (and we get nasty notes about missing school).

    1. The house is big enough that I can banish myself to one corner and leave her in another. Or head out for a walk or drive somewhere for an outing. So far it hasn’t been a problem but we’ll see how it goes!

  8. Congratulations Mrs. RoG!! I just wanted to say this summer is a great time to visit Niagara Falls and Toronto. Our family just came back from a trip to watch basketball and gymnastics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The U.S. dollar is very strong right now. For about every U.S. dollar you exchange to Canadian, you will get about $1.40 or more. Not great for us travelling to the U.S. but great for Americans travelling to Canada!

  9. Big congrats to Mrs. RoG! My last day at the office was Friday. Several people jokingly asked me if I had won the lottery. I was thinking of telling them yes and that we all had since we were born in this country or had the right to work here. Mrs. RoG’s story is just another confirmation. Cheers.

  10. Congratulation! I’m sure you guys will make it work. Keep us posted on the interaction. I want to see if you guys drive each other a little nuts. Mrs. RB40 plans to retire soon and I’m glad you’re blazing the trail.
    Great job to Mrs. RoG. It’s tough starting off as a refuge. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to integrate. Must be doubly difficult to retire early as well.

    1. So far it’s going well, and we’ve already had many weeks of her being off and hanging around home with me during the past few years. The house is big enough that we can go to our own spaces and do our own things.

      Is Mrs RB40 still aiming at 2020? Or are you bringing that date in closer? Seems like she could retire earlier if she wanted to from a strict financial perspective, especially if you keep up your blog running.

      1. Yes, she is still aiming for 2020. She still likes working and it will take time to ramp down. It’s good timing for other reasons too.
        Having a big house is good. Our place is pretty small and it could get crowded sometime.

  11. Congrats to Mrs. RoG! Did her employer leave an “If you ever want to come back…” door open, if she should ever change her mind in the future?

    Good that the compressed workweek gave her a little time to practice RE. She’s obviously very driven and hard-working and it’s great that she escaped Birth, School, Work, Death, but adjusting may still take time?

    My husband and I are planning to RE cold turkey in 4 months and I’m petrified (even after reading the MMM Post-FIRE forum and journals). Working and commuting has consumed our lives for the past 25 yrs, to the exclusion of everything else. No kids. Gotta get on the stick with volunteering and re-energizing relationships I’ve let languish.

    1. I think her employer would take her back if she wanted to return. She’s worked in different areas and former coworkers are spread around the company so that getting rehired with her good reputation should be easy. And they continue to expand here in Raleigh (while laying off in NYC and London!). No plans for her to return but you never know, so she didn’t burn any bridges.

      Best of luck pulling the plug yourself in a few months. It’s a challenge to make the huge shift into retirement, so I think it’s natural to get the jitters.

  12. Congratulations on reaching one of your “goals”. I’m with ya on cutting back on cars. Upon going thru the pile of receipts for income tax prep, I was struck by how expensive car ownership has become….insurance, tags, maintenance, repairs, emissions testing, tires…etc. As for a replacement, I would suggest a “conversion van”. I bought one years ago and it’s our “spare”. These vehicles are expensive new and the value tends to “fall off the table” as they age. Add to this a lot of “seniors” buy these to travel and then don’t put a lot of mileage on them. So it’s possible to find one with very low mileage. The gas mileage isn’t the best BUT the amenities are great. Mine is old…but has a TV, stereo, excellent seating and the back seat goes down electrically to make a bed. It has seating for 7 and travel is a “dream”. I would stick with a Dodge or Ford and a name brand “coach company” like Mark III. Good luck in your search.

    1. We had a conversion van growing up and it was quite comfy and spacious! Today’s minivans are similar in that regard and have tons of space too.

      I looked at all the work and overhead costs to keep a second car in the fleet and it wasn’t worth it. We rarely need a second car, so I’m hoping Uber will be a good second car without any overhead costs (if we can’t borrow a vehicle from family or friends, hitch a ride, or take the bus). Immediately after selling the car, I called up to cancel the liability coverage on that car and our premium dropped by $39. Add that to the hundreds in taxes, license, inspection, and registration and we can afford a lot of bus tickets and uber rides (and I never have to check the oil, inflate the tires, or wash the car!).

      1. MAN….I hope your premium dropped by more than $39. DD2 recently bought our 4WD vehicle and went on her own insurance. That dropped my annual insurance bill by almost $800. I have been looking around for a replacement 4WD used on CL….but the prices are crazy….Which got me to thinking if I really need to replace it but rather avoid all the expense. As for the conversion van, we have had ours a looong time and it has little value now. So we keep it as a “spare”. It’s got a ton of space and we have actually slept in it on several occasions when the kids were younger while on trips. Great for Beach trips…..I still love it. I will share that our local Enterprise car rental company offers “weekend specials” on “clown-cars” (compacts)….three day weekends for $9.99 a day…with unlimited mileage. This may help if you’re in a pinch….

        1. Well, $39 is a lot when our total insurance was $250 per six months! 🙂 I didn’t clarify if the $39 reduction was the refund I’ll be getting for the next 4 months till the policy renews, or whether our new rate will be closer to $210 per six months. Either way, I expect to save $80-100/yr just from the insurance alone.

          Good tip on the rental car. We are fortunate to have a few rental car agencies right around the corner within walking distance, so we can comparison shop if we need to pick up a cheap rental for the weekend. We also have a lot of family nearby so we could always borrow a car (for free) if necessary.

      1. I think you and Mrs. RoG are setting a great example for the kids that hard work early in life can prepare you for early retirement and financial freedom. Thanks for spreading the gospel.

        1. Our kids completely get the relationship between savings, net worth, and freedom. It’s no longer an abstract concept for them, but one they live every day.

  13. Congratulations – that’s so great for you her and for you!!

    Enjoy your time together! That’s awesome that you can take your time on trips to actually enjoy yourself without having the obligation to rush through things.

    — Jim

    1. I don’t think either of us enjoy the rush rush rush trips where you feel like you’re checking boxes on a visitor’s to do list. On past trips, we’ve been able to take a day off of sightseeing ever 2-3 days and just relax at the hotel/apartment or go swimming or walk around the neighborhood doing nothing in particular. Best way to travel.

  14. Wow amazing stuff, congratulations! It will be amazing to spend more time together for the both of you and spending more time with the kids. Traveling more sounds great too.

  15. Nice, congrats! We’re trying to time it so that the Mrs. calls it quits same day and time, but it would certainly be tempting to stuff the piggy bank a little more if we encountered the same employer-throwing-money-and-flexibility-at-us that Mrs. ROG did!

    I often say it, but I think I am afflicted with One *Less* Year disease… as we creep closer to our desired SWR, I am pretty sure I’ll start rationalizing how we don’t really need that much. The Mrs. is going to be much more hesitant, I think.

    1. We originally planned to quit at the exact same time (April 1, 2016 to be exact) but it didn’t work out that way. Life was definitely easier when only one of us was working (with me taking over the household and kid duties). So maybe you could call it quits before your wife does if she wants to keep working?

  16. Congratulations Mrs. ROG! It seems like yesterday when you took the first step towards retirement by renegotiating your now-past position. I hope you truly enjoy what you both have built and look at you guys with inspiration.

    Now, let the travel begin! 😀

  17. I just announced my early retirement at MegaCorp last week and am looking forward to sharing the same feelings. My last day is 4/1. Thanks for sharing your wife’s story – very inspirational and reinforces the Amercian Dream.

    1. Congrats! 4/1/2016 was originally our planned ER date from a few years ago. Get the bonuses in, use up the vacation time, and get a little cash earnings in the new tax year.

      Best of luck!

  18. Great move! Enjoy the new chapter in your life!

    As we still have 15 years ahead of us, it is hard to imagine. It could go like this: stop working, jump on a plan, travel for a few weeks with a backpack, get back home and realise there is no job obligation.

  19. Congrats to Mrs RoG, and to all of you by extension. I definitely get that it’s hard not to feel like a productive member of society, but I’m glad she switched her view to recognize that she freed up a spot for someone else to live their dream. 🙂

  20. What an amazing story . . . and the next chapter has yet to be written! Congrats to both of you on working hard to achieve freedom from a standard lifestyle. I can’t wait until we can make similar announcements, but need to deal with our debt first. Enjoy each other!

  21. Good for you Mrs RoG! I would probably spend time going to the Y, trying new exercise classes, and reading books too. My Sicilian grandfather came here at 16 knowing no English, with a nickel to his name, worked on the railroad and died a wealthy man with 3 businesses. Enjoy your retirement! Hard work earns a nice payoff.

  22. Congrats Mrs. RoG! You are living the dream! That empty olympic sized pool looks awesome. I’m completely jealous! I still have a long ways to go before I can send my own e-mail.

    1. I took that pool as symbolism for all the options that open up once you don’t have the time constraints imposed by work. It’s so much nicer to shop, drive, and recreate when everyone else is at work. Eventually the 50+ retired crowd showed up, but mid-morning at the pool seems to be a dead time.

  23. Congratulations to Mrs. ROG and the whole family!

    I’m also glad to hear Mrs ROG looks forward to reading more books in retirement. When asked what I intend to do in (early) retirement, I always bring up wanting to read more and get blank stares. Too many good books and too little time.

    PS: If your epic road trip does end up taking you through DC, you should set up a meetup — lots of Mustachians here in the District (including me!)

    1. I just requested Grapes of Wrath for her. Should keep her busy for a while. 🙂 Some people just don’t read books. If you’re busy all the time it’s hard to devote the many hours it takes to read a long book when there are plenty of 30 minute shows on Netflix to give you a quick entertainment fix (which we also enjoy).

  24. Very exciting for you both! I’m sure she’ll enjoy the newfound freedom as much as you have.

    This move should keep the internet retirement police off your back for good. Well, except those that accuse you as working as a blogger.

    Either way, Congratulations!

    1. Oops, I can’t make the Internet Retirement Police happy completely without signing off from this blog. 🙂 Oh well, they’ll just have to keep on whining that I’m somehow not “doing it right”.

  25. That is wonderful!

    Let those of us in DC know when you will be here, if you have time for a meetup. I can offer a place to sleep here in Arlington VA, if you are interested.

    I grew up in NC, and certainly dream of getting back.

    1. Will do if we end up going that way!

      Don’t blame you for wanting to get back to NC. I know lots of folks that ended up in DC from NC and almost all want to escape the high COL, crazy traffic, and busy life up there.

  26. YAY! So well done.

    In such stark contrast to our situation. Just yesterday my husband and I were having the conversation about how we will NEVER get to retire. *Sigh* The house we live in will never be paid off. Since we are in a horrible district (Los Angeles Unified) we do private school. Is the whole key to early retirement living
    in more affordable areas? We don’t have cable, we only buy used cars (special shout out to VW Diesel – THANKS VW!) we live very frugally by Los Angeles standards. WHAT are we doing wrong?

    1. I would imagine moving to a lower COL area would allow you to save a ton more money. Houses in many parts of the country are $200k or less for a pretty nice large house (not too hard to pay that off in 10-15 years). But I bet the private school is even more expensive than the extra SoCal housing costs. Obviously being in a good enough school district to go public would help. Are there any decent charter schools available for free or cheap?

      If you aren’t tied to the area it could greatly accelerate your path to retirement to move somewhere else with cheap real estate and decent public schools.

      1. Thank you for your reply. The lowest housing in a district that would be okay – Manhattan Beach, Redondo, Palos Verdes is over $1M, and that is for a craptacular property/house. lol INSANE, right? Who is making all this money. Rents run $3-4k a month, so that is not a better option. By living in our area, we spend MUCH LESS on private school then moving to a better hood with better schools. I remember three years ago thinking my best friend was NUTZ for spending $900k on their home with zero property in a crappy area of Redondo. Last month their neighbors sold the same house (one house on 9000 square feet got plowed under, FOUR very large patio houses went in) for $1.25 M! INSANE.

        We are tied to the area because of my husband’s business and his aging parents. I would definitely be open to moving and taking the money from the sale of the house and trying something new! How do you convince your spouse, though? lol

        1. Where do regular people send their kids to school? All private? Are the schools really that bad? Our kids go to what was the worst elementary school in the district (out of almost 100 elementary schools) and it wasn’t that bad. Six years later, it’s improved a lot and doing okay today. Of course it’s Raleigh/Wake County so there aren’t huge pockets of poverty. The district also does a good job of identifying problem schools and implementing changes to improve those schools.

          We also have magnet schools where we can apply to send our kids to 5-10 different schools that have different academic themes and focuses. This means we can live in a below median-priced neighborhood that contains our almost worst school in the district yet send our kids to the best middle school in the district (which probably offers better opportunities than the private schools around here). I realize the option to apply to a half dozen different schools isn’t a common option across the US but it works very well in our city to spread around low income students and allow choice in education all within a traditional public school system.

          That just seems crazy that your already high real estate prices and the RE taxes you pay can’t support minimally adequate schools.

          1. Agree with the public schools comment. Your “worst school” article is one of my favorites and will save me cool quarter million. Before reading it and just the FIRE concept in general our plan was to move to a more expensive district.

            We would have been starting over with a new 30 year higher mortgage.

            Now we are staying put and will have the house paid off in 15 years to retire around 50 years old!

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Even making a lot of money, my husband loves to tell me that we are the top 5%, lol – means NOTHING in a HCOL area.

        Okay, as far as “Regular People” go, the ones that earn HH of $125k a year and less live 1-2 hours out from the city. You’ve heard of the great Los Angeles Commute? That’s what that is all about. Drive time of 3-4 hours DAILY and that is if all is going well (no rain, no earthquakes, no freeway chases).

        Some regular people live in apartments for $3k a month so they can use the AMAZING Redondo Beach Unified School district. Pretty much everyone living in Manhattan Beach is either a business mogul, a sports celebrity, a regular celebrity, an agent , or a corporate VP. Some have trust funds. Many are retired aerospace folks that bought in the 1970s and have their kids families come back to live with them.

        Yes, writing this all out, I can see how bat-crap-bananas it is to live in one of these HCOL areas.

        1. “Yes, writing this all out, I can see how bat-crap-bananas it is to live in one of these HCOL areas.” I didn’t want to be the one to say it, but yeah. 🙂

          That would be a tough choice for me. Pay $3k/mo, live in a smaller space and have good schools or commute a few hours per day. I think I would pay $1000/mo extra just to avoid an extra 2 hours of commute.

      2. I always hear about the outsized salaries in NYC/SF but they would have to be drastically higher to cover the higher marginal taxes and higher COL (most of which you pay after tax).

        A friend recently moved back to Raleigh after working in SF and was shocked that he only had to take a $5k pay cut in engineering after relocating. He bought a 3 BR house in the best school feeding zone in the county wide district for a couple hundred thousand $ and ended up paying less in mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance than he was paying on a 1 BR to rent in a so so area of Oakland (near BART rapid transit, but still). In his case it was moving back home to be near family and start his own family, so it was a no brainer. You guys that have local family have a much harder choice – convenience and proximity to family vs fast track to ER.

        There’s also the high income, high COL folks like my law school friend that basically managed to reach FI in her early 30’s by going the big law route in DC plus she made some smart housing decisions (smaller, lower cost townhome near the metro so they only have to own 1 car). It’s kind of like the recent Mr Money Mustache article of the young attorney that retired after 5 years of FT work at big law.

        1. Well we are in a HCOL area too (DC suburbs) we also stay for family/friend.

          My sister has chose to live with my parents. She pays them a modest rent so its mutually beneficial and helps them afford to stay in the area on a teaching and non-profit salary.

          If people are staying for family, multi-generational living may be worth considering. Immigrants to the US have been using this strategy for ever.

  27. Congrats to Mrs RoG. It’s quite an achievement and seems to be an extension of her very successful life story.
    Regarding the number of people in the population who think the system is stacked against their success, I think it has more to do with how hard they think it will be to change their lifestyle – to stop spending and start saving is no easy adjustment for the majority. The irony of this failure mentality is there has never been a time in history when it is EASIER to create wealth for the average person. I blame the media for creating a culture of indentured servitude to conventional wisdom.
    Congrats to you and your wife for being in the % who doesn’t buy the conventional wisdom.

    1. I have to agree – it’s easier than ever to save money and create wealth for the average person. Mortgage rates are low, rent is still affordable in almost all areas. Education loans are easy to get (though more education and more expensive education isn’t always a smart move). Race, gender, and other discrimination has improved by leaps and bounds in the civilized parts of our country making the workplace a more level playing field. With the internet, it’s so much easier to become an entrepreneur and reach a target audience of several billion people. Even health insurance has sort of been fixed for the young and entrepreneurial types (though not for working class or middle class families with jobs with ridiculously expensive family coverage).

      But that’s the exact opposite of the “Millennials/Gen X have it harder” mantra we hear. Too many examples of success to conclude that failure is inevitable.

  28. Maybe you could post your trip on the forum, and then you’d have people lining up to have you come for dinner on your road trip? Lol, we have small but nice group from the forum right in WNY.

  29. As someone closely following you guys in hopes to one day being just like you, I say CONGRATS TO MRS. ROOT OF GOOD! I can’t imagine how those breaths of freedom feel for you both. Balancing 3 kids is enough. Relaxation and down time are hard to come by with two jobs and three kids (and I only work part-time from home!). But giving my kids more of that is the goal! Congrats to you both!

    1. Right now the freedom is a little painful after sustaining a minor hand injury while playing tennis in the middle of the day today. 🙂 But yeah, 3 kids and 2 jobs meant not much relaxation time for us before since M-F was work, kids, homework, after school stuff, then weekends were all about playing catch up, chores, and running errands.

  30. Congratulations! If I could convince my wife to downsize our house and spending I would join you both. I work on it daily. Very inspiring.

    1. Send her this article. 🙂 Good luck!

      But seriously, having a spouse on board with The Plan meant we could do it in 10 years without any crazy sacrifices. If one of us spent ridiculously, then I doubt we could have pulled it off within 3-4 decades (that’s why so many don’t retire till their 60’s).

  31. Congratulations Mrs RoG! Let the good times roll.
    Justin, I have to say – the way you describe your wife nearly bought me to tears. You clearly articulate the huge respect and love you have for her, it’s touching to read. Can’t wait to follow along on your road trip or staycation, or whatever! Aah the loveliness of zero commitments!

    1. Loving the zero commitments aspect of it. I feel overloaded when I have more than 1 event on my calendar in a day. At least now I have a full time helper at home to take care of kid pick up/drop off and caring for the 3 year old still at home. Her retirement spells more freedom for me too! 🙂

  32. Congratulations Mrs RoG! I totally knew it was going to happen soon. It will take long time to decompress. It was only this year..almost 3 years later, that l felt fully decompressed. Longer than l thought it would. I am so excited for her. She made a great success of herself in a new country and should now enjoy the fruits of her labor! 🙂

    1. I don’t talk about her very very humble beginnings often because I don’t think about them. It’s a pretty interesting story about overcoming adversity and doing well in spite of your beginnings. Maybe she can have a renaissance career as a motivational speaker. 🙂 I’m still trying to get her to write for Root of Good (which she did for bits of this article!).

  33. That’s amazing. Huge congrats from me for both of you. Can’t wait until my family reaches the same destination. A random Korean immigrant’s million dollar journey will continue!



  34. well done and congrats to Mrs ROG! its really encouraging to read your story – I’m about five years away if all goes to plan.

  35. Congratulations to both of you! What an inspiring story. We occasionally need to be reminded that good things can happen to hard working, honest people.

    p.s. been retired slightly over 6 months, spent most of it traveling, and are loving it!!

  36. Another one crests the ridge and starts down the far slope for good! Happy dance!!

    The first few months post-transition will probably look deceptively like a “typical retirement”. Lots of sleeping in, reading books, walks, puttering around the house. Thereafter, I anticipate other activities flowing in on their own rhythms: Toastmasters club and district meetings, volunteering around the city and nearby schools, and projects I get myself into because of relationships with local government officials and problems they know of that I can address.

    Pretty much like the sabbatical I’m ending, only without ending. 😀

    1. Sounds like the past couple of weeks for me (other than the sleeping in thing). Sabbaticals are wonderful because you get to test drive this whole early retirement thing and make sure it fits. 🙂

  37. Congrats Mrs. RoG. And congrats to Mr. RoG and the rest of the family–you all will benefit a lot from even more Mrs. RoG time, I’m sure. 🙂

    I love to hear people’s ER stories, and this one was particularly beautiful given her background. You two are an inspiration. Thank you!

    1. Thanks! Yes, it’s very convenient for us all to have her at home and available full time. Also way more fun for all!

      I love hearing ER stories too! If you ever want a platform to share your own ER journey and successes, all I’m saying is I know a guy with a blog with a lot of readers that would find your story very compelling too (and the real estate angle adds a nice twist from the standard path to ER). 🙂

  38. Congrats to Mrs. ROG and family! Mrs. ROG’s background is very fascinating…always love hearing stories of immigrants overcoming obstacles to find success. If only I can leave this HCOL area….!! Yea, I know, I know…it’s my choice. =) Can’t wait to hear what new exciting things you guys will be doing.

    1. Thanks! I know you’re in a tough spot with family nearby. Maybe you could persuade them all to move south a few states lol. 🙂 A local friend is trying to do the same for his greater NYC area siblings and parents (some of whom are retired after working in The City).

  39. Well done, Mr and Mrs ROG. Big Congratulations….

    A little off topic, but there is something of a theme – many of my early early FIRE friends have at least one spouse from a (non-usa) place, or, as a couple, both may be american but have spent significant (years) amounts of time living outside the USA and those money and cultural tendencies seem to have permeated our lifestyles — perhaps it’s not buying into the “american lifestyle” of keeping up with the Jones’, spending til we drop, or having to have the latest gadget and go in debt getting it or simply the life experience of doing “without” teaching one to make do with what they have, or maybe it comes down to prudence and thriftiness that comes from certain (Asian?) cultures. At any rate, it’s just my observation…

    Congrats and it looks like those kids are going to benefit from a #1 mom and dad combo spending quality time with the kids

    1. I’ve discussed this with other bloggers that have wives of foreign descent (or are immigrants or children of immigrants themselves). It’s pretty common. Retireby40, Mr. Money Mustache, Jed @ Bucking The Trend, Jeremy/Winnie at Go Curry Cracker (sorry to those I’m leaving out! 🙂 ).

      I’m not certain why but I subscribe to those theories you mentioned. Having a global perspective on wealth and poverty certainly helps us realize just how rich even the poor are here in the US.

  40. As an immigrant like Mrs. RoG (while my family was not in a refugee camp we did escape from behind iron curtain with nothing), one of the thing that drives me nuts is the whole narrative how opportunity is dead in this country, American dream is dead, we’re all going down the drain BS. I let it roll off of my back a lot more now but it used to make my head explode when I would hear some silver-spoon mommy and daddy paid for everything douche start to talk about how awful things are in this country when they’ve never even seen real poverty. It’s amazing to me how many people that had a good start in life can complain they can’t get ahead while so many immigrants do it starting from a much much worse starting point.

    Anyway, sorry to go off topic. Congratulations to Mrs. RoG for reaching this milestone! Enjoy it!

    1. I’m totally with you. There’s also the people who have every material possession imaginable but spend all their money acquiring those possessions. They can’t save anything, so claim it’s impossible to get ahead. Yet they have a house, cars, a boat, a vacation house, warm food on the table, tasty beverages, entertaining TV, fancy electronics, etc. Rich by any world wide measure of standard of living yet blind to that fact.

  41. Great news, Justin. I’m glad your wife has finally joined you in FIRE.

    Living “off-peak,” as MMM put it, is something that I am eagerly anticipating when I make the leap myself (hopefully by the middle of this year). I’m not much of a swimmer, but I’m salivating at the thought of being able to go snowboarding on a Monday morning and not having to ever stand in lines for the lift!

  42. Oh, I’m so happy for you, Mrs, RoG! You’re amazing. Beautiful family. I can’t wait to hear about this next stage of your life unfolding. Also, are there any family recipes you can share? Haha. I think there was a Christmas gathering where the feast looked over the top.

    1. Thanks Vicki. My mom and older sister are the real cooks in the family. I love their spicy cucumber chicken salad and pho. However, Mr. RoG and I do cook quite a bit ourselves. Some of my favorites are papaya hot salad (consists of hot Thai chili peppers and padaek), pho and marinated pork/chicken (marinate consists of brown sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and other seasonings). Mr. RoG’s pad thai is also really good. Maybe we’ll share some recipes in future blog post(s).

  43. Congratulations!! What a beautiful moment for Mrs. RoG and your whole family. What a gift to your children to have two parents with so much availability. Enjoy it–you both earned it!

  44. Congratulations Justin and Mrs. ROG for accomplishing such a wonderful goal at an earlier age. My wife too is going through the mental struggle of when to leave her employer. In the last year they has sweetened the pot a couple times as a way to recognize her worth to the company. I no this happened for Mrs. ROG too so this article is timely.

    Mrs. ROG, you have proven the American Dream is alive and well. My own mother immigrated to the US from Germany at age 18. She spoke broken English at the time. It is hard to believe but only 7 years later she worked as a telephone operator!

    1. There were times I wished the company would just let me go or treat me badly so that the decision would be easier. Good luck to your wife.

      Good for your mom for learning English. That is quite an accomplishment! My mom didn’t really learn English. She worked at a place where a lot of her co workers spoke the same language. After the layoff, she grew vegetables in her backyard and sold them to local Asian markets.

  45. What a lovingly written post this is.

    A bit late but very sincere nonetheless: Congratulations on your early retirement!

    You guys have such an inspiring story, I wish I had been as smart as you were from an early age. Beter late than never though 🙂

    1. Go for it! Mrs. RoG and I are both happier today than we were when she was still working (even with the 2-3 day/wk schedule of the past six months).

  46. What an absolutely inspiring story! I am so happy that you are getting to enjoy your hard-earned retirement together at last 🙂 Keep us posted re how you are now navigating all the free time together – the couple dynamic is sure to change now and many people (like me) who are looking at jumping into retirement with their better halves often wonder how it will impact their relationship.
    Thanks for sharing!

  47. Kudos to Mrs. RoG. I too find the notion that “the upward mobility is closing up” statement not necessarily true.

    Purely from mathematical point of view, for the very wealthy, it is hard to grow their wealth at a rate much beyond the market average and that is just the law of large numbers in statistics. For the poor or not so wealthy (yet), it is very probably to grow wealth at a rate well above the market average as long as there are others unfortunately severely under grow due to whatever reason.

    So as long as you are above-mean smart and hardworking, the growth rate of the poor should in theory always beat the super wealthy — just by the nature of numbers.

    And that’s why there is a saying in China, “no amount of wealth lasts more than three generations”. Given enough time, the above-average performing poor should always catch up with the wealthy — that is just a mathematical fact.

  48. And once one reaches the wealthy status, then the law of large numbers will apply to you as well.

    Funny how “fair” nature is. Everybody is given the opportunity to rise up until they don’t need it. 🙂

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