We’ve Become Early Retirement Evangelists

Have you ever had someone show up at your door and try to sell you something? I’m not talking about a neighborhood kid raising money for something–I’m totally OK with that. I’m talking an adult who wants to sell you on their religion, their cleaning product or their home improvement services. Annoying huh?!

But now, I want to walk door to door and tell people how great early retirement is. Can you imagine how that conversation would play out?!

Ok, I’m not going to walk door to door. When we get a little in our liquor, we do try to get all of our friends to join us on this early retirement adventure. Mr. Ms. Liz especially. “Why are you working?” “You don’t have to work, right?”

It reminds me of conversations I’ve had to have about why we don’t/won’t/didn’t have children. Half hour conversations about our decision process and then they still assume we weren’t able.  BTW I don’t know if we were able . . . because we never tried.

Decisions like early retirement or family composition become foundations for our lives.

And interrogating people about why they work when they don’t have to or why they don’t have children is like asking people why they do or don’t believe in God. It chips away at the foundation of their lives.

But I think we’re just trying to communicate how kick a$$ fun it is to not work. Yep, it’s really fun. So occasionally we do some chipping.

Our biggest limitation in retirement has been our love of our normal lives. This is why we haven’t embarked on an epic trip or bought a camper. We love our normal, everyday lives and the people we get to hang out with. We don’t have a strong desire to leave either.

I no longer define my success by my salary, my company’s success, or my leadership role. I define success by the amount of joy I have in my life. The joy in my friendships, the joy in keeping active, the joy in improving my Pickleball game, and the joy in connecting with people through this blog.

Sometimes, I wish we would have done it earlier.

We could have been more frugal. We could have skipped the new cars, the stupid big home, the vacation home, boat and some expensive hobbies and travels.

I could have been better at chasing money–taking jobs I would have enjoyed less but for more money.

We could have retired as soon as we reached 25x our annual spend. Depending completely on the math behind the 4% rule.

Other times, I think we did it just right.

Life is about balancing living for now versus living for later. We could have been super frugal, erring on the side of living for later and not made it to later. We’ve both lost people far too early and know all too well that there are no guarantees.

I also think about how increased frugality would have affected our friendships. Traveling, camping and boating deepened them. I don’t have a biological sister but I have three sisters from other misters. Would we be as close if we hadn’t survived sand storms, medical emergencies, and wine shortages? Oh, and that time we forgot to bring the camp grill . . . and the stove? Thankfully, I’ll never know. But I do know beef tenderloin is quite delicious when cooked over a fire on a marshmallow skewer.

In my mind, chasing money isn’t a race worth winning. I got out of accounting for a few years in my mid-twenties and hated it. My happiest day was when my bank statement would arrive and I could reconcile it. Not lying, I’m such a dork. So moving from accounting to another role would have made me miserable. No amount of money is worth misery.

I’m a worrier and a planner. If I had retired with just barely the resources I needed, I would spend my retirement worrying about money. We waited until we had saved over 30 times our cushy retirement budget. And we have fallback plans for our fallback plans. I worry about money not at all. I budget it, I track it, I forecast it but I don’t worry about it.

And although this may seem unnecessary, it was important to me to leave my staff and my company in good hands. I spent 17 years there, my colleagues and employees were like family. When I did leave, I left them with someone more capable than me. I set her up for success the best that I could and she was more than ready.

So if we show up at your door and try to convince you to join us on this early retirement journey, please be kind. It really just means we’d like to hang out more and we want you to experience your best life. And for us, we found our best life when we retired.

The Real Goal . . . Happiness

You wouldn’t think I’d need a reminder of this but I did. I was listening to the Choose FI Podcast this weekend. They were interviewing Todd Tresidder who writes at FinancialMentor.com. He was talking about different paths to financial independence and said something like “really it’s all about happiness, what makes you happy”.

People achieve Financial Independence (FI) in many ways. The loudest message is that reaching financial independence takes frugality, and in many cases fairly extreme frugality. Every decision is weighed against the financial impact. All spending must be a hack of some sort.

Some of us are hard wired to be optimizers and hackers. We love finding the best deal, spending hours to save tens or hundreds of dollars. And if this describes you, all I can say is bless you. I have a few of you on my speed dial. If I need to know where to get the best deal on a [fill in the blank], I call you.

And I’ve written about my frugality and some of my hacks. Because I reached financial independence by keeping my spending low in spite of increases in my salary. Growing that gap between what you earn and what you spend is essential if you want to hit your ambitious financial goals. Continue reading “The Real Goal . . . Happiness”

You Only Get One

This time of year, I like to reflect on my life. I think about my good fortune and share some of it with others through our donations. I think about what I’d like to add to or subtract from my life. And though I don’t like to make resolutions, I do like to make plans.

Because we only get this one beautiful life and I don’t want to waste it. Some of us will get many years and some of us will get far too few. But no matter the number of years we receive in this, our one beautiful life, we all want to thrive.

Thriving for me probably won’t look like thriving for you–we’ll each have our own definition or vision of what thriving looks like.

I have several visions that help define thrive for me. Continue reading “You Only Get One”

I Started My 2018 Budget . . . Have You?

It’s become a joke among my friends that I spend New Years Day doing my budget.  I usually start working on it a few weeks earlier but I get it finished up while watching the Rose Bowl Parade.

I guess it’s one of my holiday traditions–vanilla latte, parade and budgeting.  Sounds cozy doesn’t it?

I budget my net worth so the earliest I can finish up my budget is New Years Day.  Until I know my starting investment and retirement balances, I can’t budget my investment earnings.

Budgeting one month at a time works for lots of people but I prefer to budget for the full year.

Because I have some ugly months. Continue reading “I Started My 2018 Budget . . . Have You?”

I’ve Stopped Wishing My Life Away

My Dad used to tell me not to wish my life away.  I was always looking forward to what was coming, what would make my life better.

When I was 7 I couldn’t wait to be 10–double digits!
When I was 10 I couldn’t wait to be a teenager.
When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to drive.
When I could drive, I couldn’t wait to graduate.
When I graduated I couldn’t wait to go to college.
When I went to college I couldn’t wait to graduate.
When I graduated, I couldn’t wait to hear if I passed the CPA exam.
When I passed the CPA exam, I couldn’t wait to start my real job.
When I started my real job, I couldn’t wait for time off.
And for the last 22 years, I couldn’t wait for summer.
While I also couldn’t wait to retire. Continue reading “I’ve Stopped Wishing My Life Away”

Are You Protected?

I’ve had a few questions lately about insurance.  Particularly about Umbrella and Long-term Care policies.  I’ve had this post in draft mode for about six months so I thought I’d dust it off and put it out there for y’all.  Hopefully it’s a quick scan if you think you’re in good shape or a careful read if there are some things you need to look after.

Insurance is best used to protect against low probability, high cost risks.

Low probability means the bad thing you are protecting yourself against doesn’t happen often.  If it did happen often, we couldn’t afford the premiums to protect against it.

High risk means the bad thing you are protecting yourself against would be financially devastating for you.  What is financially devastating for each of us is different and could change over time.

And our need for insurance changes over time.  As we age and add dependents, property or just wealth, our needs can change.  So what insurance do we need as we get older? Continue reading “Are You Protected?”

Who Are You–Really?

I’ve found one of the real benefits of retirement is being able to be 100% me, all the time.

I remember my surprise 30th birthday party like it was yesterday. Partially because it was so damn stressful.

In the same house (ours that thankfully my Mom had cleaned) were my work friends who knew Liz version 1.0, my college friend who had become very religious who knew Liz version 2.0, my party at the lake friends who knew Liz version 3.0, my family who knew Liz version 4.0 and Mr. Ms. Liz who knew them all.

I felt a bit like Sybil (now I’m really dating myself) with all of her personalities in the same room. Though each personality wasn’t completely different from the others, they were different sides of me.

As I got older, my non-working personalities merged and I landed in a job and in a company that allowed me to be, well more me. But there were still a few work personalities. The Liz that my boss knew was a bit different from the Liz that my staff knew and both were quite different from the Liz that my Boards of Directors knew.

At times, these versions of me didn’t feel authentic.  Because you can’t tell a staff member to shut up and get to work and you can’t tell a Board Member he’s a psychotic self serving ass. Well, you can’t say those things and keep your job anyway. So there was still a bit of tongue biting going on. Continue reading “Who Are You–Really?”

$10 Can Be Life Changing

I tried out a new stylist this week.  I was long overdue and my regular stylist was booked up.  We started with the normal salon chit chat, where you live, what you do, and in our small town who you know.

She asked about being retired. I try to let people know I did it by saving a lot.

She said her Dad had recently been to a class about personal finance.  I’m hoping it was a legit. one at the community college and not a sales seminar.  But anyway, he was telling her everything he learned that he wished he knew when he was her age.

He told her if she invested $100 a month she could have a million dollars.  Super, seriously, impactful to hear that in your mid-twenties.  Not completely accurate (more about this later) but impactful.  He wished he knew this stuff when he was her age so he was doing his best to pass it to her.

I started gushing about how cool it was that she was having these conversations with her Dad.  How important this was.  What an amazing legacy he was creating for her.  I wanted to nominate him for Dad of the Year–is there such a thing???

And then I came home and checked the math. Continue reading “$10 Can Be Life Changing”

The Math Is the Easy Part

Achieving financial independence is hard in spite of the math being surprisingly easy.

Here’s the math: 

Mr. Money Mustache tells the shockingly simple math behind early retirement much better than I can.

Save 5% of your take home pay and you’ll need to work 66 years; save 20% and you’ll need to work 37 years; save 50% and you’ll need to work 17 years; save 70% and you’ll need to work 8.5 years.  Yep just 8.5 years.

This is a bit simplistic–but close.

I have my retirement mapped out in mind numbing detail.  And you should too.

But for the smarty pants readers of this blog, it’s not too hard, right?

But here’s what’s hard:  Continue reading “The Math Is the Easy Part”

My Lovely, Inefficient Life

I read a lot of my fellow bloggers stuff.  Some, I read because I love how they write (frugalwoods), some, I read because I love how they think (OurNextLife),  some I read because they are irreverent (BitchesGetRitches), and some, because they have such great hacks.

Many of the hacks are to help people save time.  Because these bloggers have to fit a lot into each day.  They often have full time + jobs and families and successful, money making, blogs.  I run a money losing blog and it still takes a lot of time.  I can’t even imagine how much time is devoted to a money making blog–oh the pinterest pins, the facebook groups, the tweeting that is necessary . . . it’s so daunting, I haven’t even attempted it.

And, I have to admit, when I read about hacks to save time, I kind of giggle inside.  I’m still celebrating that I don’t need to be so damn efficient.

I’ve created a life for myself that has a ton of inefficiency built into it . . . because I can. Continue reading “My Lovely, Inefficient Life”