Getting through the middle saving years slog en route to early retirement and financial independence // OurNextLife.com

Getting Through the Middle Saving Years Slog

Nearly everyone who achieves financial independence feels some level of impatience at some point, and that’s normal. But it’s especially easy these days to cross the line from normal impatience to borderline obsession, which only magnifies and worsens that impatience. Here’s some of what we did — and what we WISH we’d done — to get through the middle saving years slog.

OurNextLife.com // The Social Good of Quitting Your Job // Financial independence and early retirement give each of us the incredible opportunity to volunteer more, be philanthropic, be better caregivers and even create jobs!

The Social Good of Quitting Your Job

I get that there are plenty of folks who see early retirement as a selfish, lazy act that will ultimately make us drains on society. But those folks are ignoring the social good that each of us can do simply by quitting our jobs, as well as the incredible potential that early retirement offers each of us to do so much more.

Relearning how to live slowly in early retirement and financial independence // Our Next Life // ournextlife.com -- slow living, simple living, simplicity, lifestyle design

Relearning How to Live Slowly

Building on the recent post on simple living, we’re working on going to the next level and living more slowly, which is as much a mindset as anything that anyone could see. The only problem? We don’t actually know how to live slowly, because we’ve never done it! But we’re not afraid to put in the effort to learn how. After all, we’ve never been retired before, so it’s bonkers to think we’d be great at every aspect of it right off the bat.

Retirement Needs a Rebrand

My old career involved rebranding organizations, and that was one of my favorite parts of the job. Now, every time I hear someone debate what retirement is or isn’t, I think, “There is no one common understanding of retirement, so it’s definitely ripe for a rebrand.” Well, let’s do it. Let’s rebrand retirement. Come weigh in on what you want the new brand to reflect.

Consider a side hustle year to begin early retirement // Our Next Life // It's easy to observe that a lot of people -- not just bloggers -- end up working more than they expect to in early retirement or financial independence, in large part because work feels very different when it's by choice than when it's by necessity. So why not plan for that and make your first year of early retirement a side hustle year? The benefits of doing so are potentially huge.

Consider a Side Hustle Year to Begin Early Retirement

It’s easy to observe that a lot of people — not just bloggers — end up working more than they expect to in early retirement, in large part because work feels very different when it’s by choice than when it’s by necessity. So why not plan for that and make your first year of early retirement a side hustle year? The benefits of doing so are potentially huge.

Defining simple living for yourself // OurNextLife.com // early retirement, financial independence, intentional lifestyle design

Defining Simple Living for Yourself

“Simple living” is a term that I resisted for a long time because it felt so prescriptive and unachievable. Maybe it’s all Instagram’s fault, but it felt like there was a way living simply was supposed to look, and that wasn’t for us. But I finally saw that it’s up to each of us to define what simple living feels like, and that there’s tremendous value in doing so. (Plus, enter to win Mrs. Frugalwoods’ new book!)

Aligning your spending with your values vs. what you value // Consider whether your spending supports only what adds value to your life vs. supporting your personal values, adding value to others' lives.

Aligning Your Spending with Your Values Vs. What You Value

Aligning your spending with your values with one of the first bits of advice many of us here when we get on the path to financial independence. But that advice usually goes on to talk about value — specifically what you get most value from — and not really about values at all. This is my case for why it serves you better to think about both what you value and your personal values when it comes to your spending and economic power.

Adapting to Life with No Structure // Our Next Life // early retirement, financial independence, lifestyle design, life planning, retirement

Who Left These Kids In Charge?! // Adapting to Life With No Structure

Our lives lately have looked slightly less than, er, adult. Some days we wonder why there are no grownups here to tell us what to do, instead just leaving us alone to do as we please with no structure whatsoever. It’s marvelous, of course, or at least marvelous for now, but we’re certainly wondering: At some point are we actually going to adapt to this new unstructured life?

Retiring Early in the Face of Fear // Our Next Life // The biggest non-financial question we've been getting lately, now that folks know we've retired, is "Aren't you scared?!" And you might assume that people who've made the big leap and given up the big paychecks would say, "Nope!" But that's not true. We are scared. Just as anyone doing something big and at least a little bit risky should be. But we didn't let that fear hold us back, and that's what actually matters.

Retiring Early in the Face of Fear

The biggest non-financial question we’ve been getting lately, now that folks know we’ve retired, is “Aren’t you scared?!” And you might assume that people who’ve made the big leap and given up the big paychecks would say, “Nope!” But that’s not true. We are scared. Just as anyone doing something big and at least a little bit risky should be. But we didn’t let that fear hold us back, and that’s what actually matters.

Protect your early retirement from sequence of returns risk // Our Next Life // early retirement, financial independence, investing, financial planning, retirement

Protect Your Early Retirement From Sequence of Returns Risk

Do the roller coastering markets have you concerned about the your early retirement plan? Sequence risk is by far the biggest risk early retirees face, and that risk can come from market crashes, long-term mediocre returns and even rising health care costs. Fortunately, though, we can all put ourselves in a good position to head off that risk, without lengthening the timeline to early retirement, by making some smart choices with asset allocation and behavior.

The Nothing New Year Redux // Celebrating a Year of Less

A year ago, I issued the Use It Up Challenge, and lots of you took it on. (Tell me how it went!) But there was part of the challenge that we took on specifically — the nothing new year — that we didn’t fully live up to. So we’re leveling up this year. Also, it’s a big time for my friend Cait Flanders, and to celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of her book. Come enter!

The Thrill of the New and the Peril of Too Much Yes // Setting New Boundaries in Early Retirement

The Thrill of the New and the Peril of Too Much Yes // Setting New Boundaries in Early Retirement

We’re 10 work days from early retirement, and are now starting to consider new opportunities that look to the untrained eye a whole lot like work. The whole point of our early retirement was to be able to say yes more, and some of the things we really want to be able to say yes to, money aside. But there’s peril in that — taking on too much, and making it not really early retirement after all. Here’s how we’re thinking about setting new boundaries.

Our Next Life // What do you want to be when you grow up? That's what financial independence is all about. // Early retirement lets us answer that question, which is a way better question to focus on than "What do you do?"

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? That’s What Financial Independence Is All About

The question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” has never been far from my consciousness at any point in my life. I asked it of myself constantly as a kid, and I never really stopped even as an adult in a career. Which might partially explain how I got on an early retirement path. But answering that question — and separating “be” from “do” — is really what financial independence is all about.

Being this close to early retirement doesn't feel how I thought it would // Our Next Life // on the emotional and physical feelings at this stage of the journey

Being This Close to Early Retirement Doesn’t Feel How I Thought It Would

We officially have so few work days left that we can count them on our fingers and toes. Which means we’re 100 percent fired up, right? Um, yeah, about that. Turns out even though I knew the feelings at this stage would be complicated, they’re even more conflicting that I expected. And that’s not to mention how I feel physically. How this point in time feels so different from what I expected.

Being selectively hardcore -- keeping our house cold, and the lessons that has to teach us // Our Next Life

What’s Your “Selectively Hardcore”? The Non-Financial Benefits of Strict, Strategic Frugality

When we first moved to Tahoe, we ran the heat at what seemed like a reasonable cool temperature, 62 or 63 or so, but then got a three-digit natural gas bill that started with a 4. So began our quest to reduce our heating bill and to find how low we could go, but this isn’t about keeping your house cold. It’s about finding your version of “selectively harcore” and all the non-financial lessons that come from being strict with yourself in one way of your choice.

Bringing back the allowance in early retirement // Systems for financial success and peace of mind // using a personal allowance to take the pressure off our nest egg savings as well as our marriage and relationship!

Allowance 2.0 in Early Retirement // Systems for Financial Success and Peace of Mind

We’re about to go through a life and financial transition as big as graduating from college or getting married — and that’s switching from earning plenty while working to earning very little in early retirement. Which means that we need a new set of systems to ensure our financial success, especially given our status as anti-budgeters. But it also means that we’re bringing back a tool we gave up years ago: the personal allowance.

Our Early Retirement Charitable Mission and Donor Advised Funds

Just as we have a mission in early retirement to figure out what we want to do when we grow up, and to adventure more, we also have a mission to be more charitable, both by volunteering and by giving money directly to important causes. Which may seem harder when we have less cash flow coming in. But there are some good ways to build charitable giving into your retirement financial plan, including with a donor advised fund. What’s your charitable mission?

Don’t Write Off High-Cost States for Early Retirement // Why We’ll Never Leave California

The most common question we got after revealing where we live was “But… California?! It’s such a high-tax state!” So let’s take a look at why we think California can be a great place to retire, as can many high tax states. Because there’s so much more to total cost and overall lifestyle than just income taxes, especially given that income taxes are far less relevant to early retirees.

Hiya! (Again) // It’s Reveal Time!

It’s time, you guys! For nearly three years, and 300 posts, I’ve written as “Ms. ONL,” and referred to my partner in crime as “Mr. ONL.” We’ve obscured where we live, what we do for work, and a bunch of other identifying details. But that all ends now! Come meet the real humans behind Our Next Life.

A Reminder That What We’re All Doing Is Still Unfathomable to Most People

So many of us, upon learning about early retirement, dive in headfirst, and discover this community full of people working toward the same goal. And along the way, we adjust our baseline based on the people we meet here, and we might even forget that we are the outliers, not the normal ones. Recently, we were reminded just how not normal this goal is, and that’s made us all the more grateful.

How We’ll Live Beyond Our Budget in Early Retirement

In just two short months, we’ll be retired and living on a constrained income for the first time in ages. But we’re not worried, because we have a whole bunch of ways to live beyond that budget, especially once we have time to invest in research and deal-finding. (Plus, we can live a pretty sweet life for not a lot of money, so it doesn’t take much budget stretching to feel like we’re living a life of luxury.) Check out our plan for living beyond our budget — and then let us know what we missed!

Why We Aren’t Banking on Social Security for Our Retirement — But Why You Might

Today we’re continuing the mini-series on Social Security and Medicare by looking at whether or not you should build Social Security into your retirement plan. We’re not counting on it, in part because we don’t need to, but also for some big reasons that are worth considering for everyone who wants a secure financial future. Give it a read and then let us know what you think!

The Fundamental Problem with the 4% Rule for Early Retirement Isn’t the 4% Rule

The question of whether 4 percent is a safe withdrawal rate, as the “4 percent rule” suggests has been — and will continue to be — debated endlessly. Fortunately, this isn’t more of that debate. Instead, let’s look at whether the fundamental underlying assumption of the 4 percent rule — level spending every year — is actually realistic and safe to plan around. (Spoiler: it’s not.)

The Final Approach // 2017 Q3 Financial Update

Holy moly — it’s our *very last* quarterly financial update before we retire early in a little over two months from now! (Can I just keep typing exclamation points and have that count as an intro?) !!!!!! The third quarter was a good one for us, and it’s looking like we have a good chance of hitting our stretch “magic number” goal. Come see where we are, and then share your Q3 progress with all of us!

The Income Streams Our Early Retirement Is (Now) Built On

When we first formulated a real early retirement plan, it was based on the rigid belief that we’d never, ever work again. Or at least never *have* to work again. And while that’s still true — we haven’t expedited our plan by forcing ourselves to earn income in the future — we now expect to get a much more diversified set of income streams in early retirement. In part because life happens and we’ve made some different choices along the way. And in part because that recession hasn’t hit yet, health care is still up in the air, and it makes sense to keep hedging against sequence risk and health insurance uncertainty.

Embracing Both DIY and the Suboptimal // PLUS The Pre-Reveal Contest!

It’s a two-for-one post today! First up, an examination of the joint urges among FIers to DIY our lives and finances, but also to optimize as much as we can. Let’s discuss how compatible those joint impulses really are, and the joy that comes from embracing the suboptimal. And then, it’s pre-reveal contest time! Check out the DIY swag I made just for the lucky winners, and enter your guesses for where we live, what we do for work, and any other fun facts you want to throw out there. Good luck!

Financial Independence, Fight Club and the Mindless Consumer Zombie Narrative

I know you’ve heard this one before: the narrative of “working a job you hate to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.” It’s what I’ve come to call the Fight Club narrative, a distinct strand of the FI movement that posits consumerism as public enemy number 1. And while it’s a compelling narrative, here’s my case for why it’s harmful, and what we should be talking about instead.

Stepping Off the Map // There’s No Guidebook for the Emotions of Early Retirement

The financial aspects of the early retirement journey are well trod at this point: reduce your expenses, save at a high rate, invest in assets that create passive income, blah blah blah. What’s less talked about is the emotional journey, which means that a lot of us are stepping off the map, and heading into uncharted territory. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s our take on navigating those emotions, and why the unexpected ones are so valuable in guiding your financial plans.

What If Everyone Wanted to Retire Early? A Thought Exercise on Market Valuations

Index investing, early retirement and financial independence in their most commonly discussed forms all rely on one simple principle: They only work if most people don’t do them. (Don’t believe me on indexing? Read on for plenty of evidence.) Let’s dig into this idea, specifically the thought exercise on what a universal aspiration for early retirement would mean for market valuations, and talk about what would make early retirement more accessible to more people.

$100 to Spend, or a Day of Retirement? Think in Days, Not Dollars, to Speed Your Progress

Vicki Robin’s book Your Money or Your Life had a huge impact on how I view money, asking us to equate money we might spend with the life force it represents, in other words, the time it took to earn it. And while that’s a great starting point for shifting our thinking about money and spending, I have a different proposal for how we should think of that money to speed our progress toward financial independence, focusing not on how long the money took to earn, but on how much time it buys us back.

The Three-Part Formula for Success That Works for All Major Life Goals Including Early Retirement or Financial Independence!

The Three-Part Formula to Achieve Any Huge Goal, Even When Advice Doesn’t Fit

There is plenty of financial advice out there, including some very prescriptive advice about how to achieve financial independence or virtually any big goal you can think of. The only problem is: that advice, while great for some, is guaranteed to be bad advice for others. Rather than trying to follow advice to the letter — or give it out in a prescriptive way — let’s focus on the formula instead, a formula with three key ingredients that can get anyone in nearly any life circumstances to achieve big goals.

How to make saving for early retirement not feel like a sacrifice // Saving, frugality, retirement savings

How to Make Saving for Early Retirement Not Feel Like a Sacrifice

If you’d told me at the beginning of our early retirement journey that we’d be on the verge of retiring only six years later, and that we wouldn’t be miserable or feel like we’d lived a life of sacrifice to make it possible, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s true. And not because we haven’t dramatically cut our spending. We have. But because sacrifice is a perception, not an absolute, and we’ve managed to balance out cuts to our spending with additions to other parts of our lives. Here’s how.

Calculating Our "Enough" -- Determining the Numbers Behind Our Financial Independence and Early Retirement Plan

How We Calculated Our “Enough” Number for Early Retirement

Today I’m (finally) sharing something that I’ve wanted to write about for a long time, but haven’t tackled because there is no easy formula: how to determine what is “enough” to save for early retirement. “Enough” is perhaps the centrally important concept to early retirement, but it can feel overwhelming to quantify your own. Here’s a breakdown on how we calculated ours, and how you can do the same for your own circumstances.

How to Use Your FI Freedom to Agitate for Others at Work | financial independence, early retirement

How to Use Your FI Freedom to Agitate for Others at Work

Those of us on the FI path who are still working have an incredible freedom that most of the working world doesn’t enjoy: the freedom to push for the change in our companies or industries that others might get penalized for pushing for. Better pay, more empowering conditions, parity, diversity, you name it. If we get labeled difficult or squeaky wheels, it doesn’t matter, because we’re on our way out. Here’s how — and why! — to use that power, both for the greater good and for your own legacy.

Don't Forget About Your Later Years // Planning for Early AND Traditional Retirement -- make sure your planning includes planning for early retirement, and all the considerations that go into traditional retirement planning

Don’t Forget About Your Later Years // Planning for Early AND Traditional Retirement

We know — the excitement of the *early* part of early retirement is powerful. So much so that it’s easy to focus our retirement planning mostly on those early years. The later years are also so much harder to predict — more variables, a longer time horizon, more unknown unknowns. But as we’ve seen in our own planning, it’s easy to have an inadvertent early phase bias built in — here’s how to suss that out and ensure that you’re planning for both your early retirement and traditional retirement.

Countering magical thinking about early retirement and financial independence, expectations and happiness, not setting yourself up for disappointment in retirement

Countering Magical Thinking About Early Retirement and Financial Independence

Early retirement and financial independence are such huge goals that most of us can’t help but build them up in our minds, and that often leads to the totally normal tendency to get into magical thinking: believing early retirement will make us happier, or better people, or cure whatever else ails us. Today we get into why it’s worth countering that magical thinking, and how to do it.

The Dose Makes the Poison // Radical Moderation in Frugality, Saving and Spending -- not trying to save too fast or spend too perfectly en route to financial independence or early retirement

The Dose Makes the Poison // Radical Moderation in Frugality, Saving and Spending

There’s a principle in medicine that the dose makes the poison. Which means, very few substances are good or bad for us no matter what. Instead, what matters is how much of them we take. And it’s exactly the same with money. It’s easy to make symbols of things like buying lattes or paying for cable, but those behaviors aren’t objectively a problem. What might be the problem, however, is the dose. Why we’re big believers in focusing on the dose, in context, and embracing a sense of radical moderation.

The Most Important Ingredient in the Pursuit of Financial Independence: Excitement!

The Most Important Ingredient in the Pursuit of Financial Independence

Over the past two and half years of blogging about our early retirement journey, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from several dozen of people who’ve achieved financial independence. All the while, we’ve been going along on our journey, and noticing what spurs us along more than anything. Turns out our journey and those of others’ have one key ingredient in common.

What We Know and Still Don't Know About Early Retirement Health Care // Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Health Insurance, Health Care Coverage, Early Retirement, Financial Independence, Senate Health Care Bill, AHCA, Early Retirees

What We Know — and Still Don’t Know — About Early Retirement Health Care

Things have been moving quickly in the health care debate, which many of us on the verge of early retirement have been eyeing closely. Just this week, the latest Senate proposals to reform the Affordable Care Act and the later proposal to repeal it altogether were withdrawn. So where does that leave us all? What do we know? And more importantly, what do we still not know about health care and costs for early retirement? Let’s take a close look.

OurNextLife.com // What we've learned from living in a vacation destination // Living in a mountain town, retiring to the mountains, living where other people go on vacation

What We’ve Learned From Living Where Everyone Else Is On Vacation

We’re coming up on six years of living in our soon-to-be-divulged mountain town, and we feel lucky every day that we get to call this place home. But it’s not perfect, of course. The place we call home is a place lots of other people call their vacation destination, and that makes for some interesting dynamics. We’d tried to look at it in terms of what lessons we can learn from those visitors that we can apply to our own life and early retirement, and it turns out there’s plenty to take away from it all.

OurNextLife.com // Our changing definition of early retirement and the power of the freedom to fail

Our Changing Definition of Early Retirement and the Power of the Freedom to Fail

We’ve evolved a ton in our vision for early retirement, starting with only a vision of what we were retiring from, to now having a clear vision of what we’re retiring to, and making a big shift in the role we see work playing in our post-career lives. But even though we plan to work after this year, we see it as so different from “real work,” because unlike almost everyone else out there, we will be totally free to fail at whatever we do. A look at our new and revised definition of early retirement, and how the freedom to fail has helped us get here.

Why you should resist modern conveniences like cooking boxes, personal digital assistants, and other technologies that shrink your brain over time. Focus on challenging yourself and doing as much via DIY as you can, based on your circumstances!

Why We Resist Convenience Services and Technologies (and It Has Nothing to Do With Money)

The world of today is full of ever-increasing conveniences — cooking boxes full of pre-measured and pre-chopped ingredients that let you whip up delicious meals at home, personal digital assistants that keep a virtual ear open for your every request, apps that tell you exactly what you need to know so you don’t have to think. And while these things do make life easier, the question is: Is an easier life actually good for us? Is it good for our long-term brain health?

Quarterly financial progress report toward early retirement and financial independence

Magic Numbers, Padding and Panic // 2017 Q2 Financial Update

It’s time for our second quarter early retirement progress report — our second to last! — complete with charts galore. This quarter we hit another milestone that’s both wonderful and a relief, and we’re setting our sights on building up a sizable cushion by year’s end for future health care unknowns. Plus: we’ve launched a reader survey and we’d LOVE your input.

Does your exit plan have an exit plan? Why you need to be able to change your mind in early retirement -- about where and how you live, about work, and about anything else. Make sure you build in the resources to keep your options open.

Does Your Exit Plan Have an Exit Plan? // What If You Change Your Mind?

Today we’re talking options, and keeping them open. Early retirement isn’t an ending, after all — it’s a beginning. And if we go into that beginning with a limited set of options, and no ability to change our course, we could be setting ourselves up for a less-than-ideal future. Here’s why it’s so important to have an exit plan from your exit plan, which really just means you’re giving yourself the financial and logistical resources to change your mind.

The Paradox of Growing Up So We Can Avoid Growing Up // For those of us pursuing early retirement so we can be kids forever, there's an interesting paradox: we have to grow up to avoid growing up and early retire.

The Paradox of Growing Up So We Can Avoid Growing Up

I spend a lot of time talking about the nobler aspects of early retirement like how it will give us time to do more volunteering. But can we all be honest? We can do noble things in retirement, but the reason doesn’t have to be noble at all. For us, it’s all about what is most fun, and the answer is: not working. We want to retire early so that we can go back to being kids, but the paradox is that we’ve had to grow up big time to avoid growing up.

Pre-Early Retirement To Do List // What To Do Before and After You Retire Early

The Before and After Early Retirement To Do Lists

Our early retirement might be right around the corner, but we still have a lot to do before the year is up to make sure that we’re truly ready to make the big leap. Then after we pull the plug, we have a different set of things to do. Here are our big lists of things to do before we retire early, and right after, as well as things we’ve already checked off the list this year. Are we missing anything? Let us know!

Make Time for What’s Most Important — Before AND After Retirement

I definitely fell into magical thinking for years of our retirement planning, thinking I’d have time to do everything I’d ever dreamed of after we quit: travel the world, write novels, learn a gazillion languages, solve world hunger — you get the idea. But after talking to many early retirees, I’ve had to accept: Time will always be limited. And if I care about accomplishing goals or living a life of meaning, it’s crucial to go into retirement with an eye toward making time for what’s important, and ruthlessly cutting out what’s not.

OurNextLife.com // Why “Saving Money” Usually Means Spending Money, and the Mindset We Foster Instead // avoiding the trap of chasing deals and seeing spending as "saving"

Why “Saving Money” Usually Means Spending Money, and the Mindset We Foster Instead

It is a natural thing to want to save money, and those of us pursuing huge financial goals innately find the idea of saving even more powerful. The problem comes when marketers deliberately blur the line between saving and spending, convincing us we’re doing one when really we’re doing the other. Today, recognizing when saving money is actually spending money, and how to keep the focus on the saving itself.

Why married early retirees should have a pre-FIRE agreement, prenup for early retirement, prenup for financial independence

More Than a Prenup, You Need a Pre-FIRE Agreement

We love that more and more people are talking about prenups these days (more financial transparency between partners is great!), but for those of us considering early retirement, we think a pre-FIRE agreement is even more important. After all, early retirement comes with its own set of major risks, some of which we’re insulated from to some extent as a couple, but others which become bigger risks for those who are married. Here’s how we’re navigating this.

Think Health Care, Not Just Taxes and Weather, When Deciding Where to Retire // Best states to retire to, states with best health care, best states for retirement health care, best states for health insurance

Think Health Care, Not Just Taxes and Weather, When Deciding Where to Retire

The world is full of rankings telling us where the best places are to retire, but they tend to focus a lot on state tax rates and weather, even though surveys say that people care less about taxes and weather than other factors like overall cost of living and health care quality. This post explores the health care quality factors we should all be weighting more heavily in deciding where to live in retirement, including some factors that none of the rankings take into account.

Are some people predisposed to embrace the FI mindset? Financial independence, money mindset

Are Some People Predisposed to Embrace the FI Mindset?

Today we’re exploring a single question — Are some people predisposed to embrace the FI mindset? — through some personal stories, including a spending confession so out there I almost couldn’t hit publish. But most of all, we want to hear from you guys on this one — what do you think all FIers have in common, and can anyone become an FIer? Come weigh in!

Avoid early withdrawals in early retirement // Roth conversion ladders, IRS rule 72t Substantially Equal Periodic Payments SEPP, early retirement savings

Minimizing Early Withdrawals in Early Retirement // Hang On to As Much As You Can for Later

Some possible fighting words today, as we delve into the question of whether it makes sense to think of both taxable funds and tax-advantaged retirement funds as one big pool of money. Why does it matter? Because there are a bunch of potentially huge downsides to withdrawing traditional retirement funds early through Roth conversions or rule 72t distributions (or different approaches that exist in other countries). Fortunately, there’s another great option if you’re willing to do a little more math.

There's no such thing as a risk-free life // risk tolerance, low risk tolerance retirement, false dichotomy

There’s No Such Thing As a Risk-Free Life

For years, I labored under the cozy illusion that there were “safe” choices in life and “risky” choices. And of course I was drawn to the ones that felt safer. Until I saw with my own eyes, in my own finances and my own life, that sometimes the safest choice of all is actually the most risky. And that realization changed everything.

Investment Returns, Conservative Projections, Low Growth, Early Retirement, Retirement Planning

The Case for Conservative Early Retirement Investment Projections

We’re all getting conflicting signals right now: From financial analysts predicting lousy returns for the foreseeable future, and from early retirees reporting how they’re beating their projections every quarter. We could take away two very different lessons from this dissonance: that we need to make sure our plan is extra solid and based on low projected returns, or that we’re probably overthinking it all and working longer than we need to. We have an opinion on this (always do!), and share why we’re taking the more conservative approach, because: recency bias.

You can love your job and still want to retire early // You can retire if you love your career, if you feel fulfilled by it, or any other good reason!

You Can Love Your Job and Still Want to Retire Early

In the last several months of contemplating leaving work, while doing a better job of saying no and setting boundaries (woot!), I’ve come to realize something: I truly love what I do. Bad news for a soon-to-be early retiree, right? Not at all! You can definitely love your job and still want to retire early — no insanity required! Here’s why.

Write Your Financial Independence Mission Statement

Today we’re talking mission statements, something that most companies have, but which few individuals or families do — which is a shame, because they can be super helpful in keeping you on-track to reach your biggest life goals. Think of your mission statement like a compass or GPS that helps you find your way if you ever start to wander off the path.

What Is “Work”? // Creating Our Own Definitions and More for the Retirement Police

I just can’t help it. I feel compelled to keep poking the bear that is the retirement police, those folks who feel the need to tell us if we are or aren’t “retired,” according to whatever their definition happens to be. Today that means talking through the evolution of our personal definition of retirement, encouraging you to create your own, and taking a deeper look at what actually constitutes “work.” Come join the discussion!

What Has Surprised Us Most about Pursuing Financial Independence

Maybe this is true for most of us, but we tend to focus on what’s right in front of our faces. On the journey to early retirement, that means thinking about how we treat our money now, and not always thinking back about how we used to relate to it. But today we’re taking a little look back to see what has surprised us most about pursuing financial independence, both financially, and in terms of our mindset.

Imperial Palace, Tokyo Japan

Does Anyone Who Is Seriously Awesome at Their Job Retire Early?

A question we ask ourselves all the time is: Do we just want to retire early because deep down we feel bad at working? Even though we’re nothing close to bad at our jobs — we’ve very good at them — we’ve never quite been able to muster the right attitude to do them with total commitment. Which makes us wonder: for those special few who are seriously incredible at their jobs, would early retirement even enter their minds? Come share your theories!

Self Worth, Validation and Gold Stars in My Post-Career Life

It’s nothing new to say that our collective digital life has made many of us focus too much on signs of external digital validation such as likes and comments. I’ve so far been okay at avoiding that trap, but after we leave our careers, the work I do will be more digital than ever. And given my gold star-seeking tendencies, how can I redefine my self worth post-career without falling into the digital stats trap?

Replicate What You’re Great At in Early Retirement

Here’s a crazy thought: It feels great to be good at things. And if there are things you’re good at in your current work — even if it’s not obvious now that you get joy from them — you might miss out on future joy if you subtract those tasks from your life when you retire early. Today we’re honing in on the things we’re best at, that bring us the most joy, and figuring out how to magnify that joy in FIRE.

Staring Into the Early Retirement Health Care Abyss

The best thing the Affordable Care Act did for early retirees was introduce some level of predictability about health care costs, and all indications are that that predictability is about to go away, no matter where things land with a new health care law. And that’s a big deal for early retirees. Here are some things you should be thinking about, especially if you’re planning to retire soon.

The Simple Math of Lifestyle Stagnation, the Biggest Secret of Our Success

We attribute our financial success primarily to three things: not overspending on housing, earning above average incomes, and — as we’ll discuss in detail today — not inflating our lifestyle in many, many years. This “lifestyle stagnation” (think of it as level spending over time) can lead to pretty massive savings potential over time, and today we break it all down.

To Travel Long or Travel Short? // The Start of Real Retirement Planning

Something we’re starting to realize is: What we all call retirement planning isn’t really true retirement planning. Money is only a tiny piece of this, and not what most of us will be thinking about daily once we stop working. Real retirement planning is planning for all the rest of life that comes post-career, and for us, a big part of that is travel. So we’re shifting now into *real* retirement planning, and thinking through those big travel questions like how long to stay out, and where to go first.

When Loyalists Contemplate Quitting

Thanks to some recurring power outages, we’ve had a lot of time lately to talk about what’s on our minds. And something that keeps coming up a lot is anxiety about what it will be like when we quit — not our post-work life, but the actual act of quitting itself. We know this feels tougher to us because we’ve been in our jobs a long time and are invested in them. Today: When loyalists contemplate quitting.

Want Adventure AND Security? Just Change Your Timeline

I never took a break between high school and college, or between college and starting my career. And so for years, I thought I’d missed my chance to do something awesome, as though that’s something only young 20-somethings can do. But seeing people in our mountain town piecing together lives of adventure in all different ways made us realize: we haven’t missed out on anything. In fact, we’re probably doing this the better way, because our life of adventure will be built on solid financial footing.

Debt’s a Funny Thing // Plus: Why We’re Not Prepaying Our Rental Mortgage

Paying off our mortgage last week has gotten us thinking a lot about debt, and how differently we all think about it — but also how we *feel* about it. Today we’re diving into those thoughts and feelings, and — because we got so many questions about it — diving into why we did pay off the mortgage on our house but why we’re not paying off the mortgage on our rental anytime soon.

When the Crash Comes // Recession-Proofing Our Retirement Plans

We’re generally optimists about things and — though it seems like a paradox — we become most optimistic when we’ve delved into all the bad stuff that could possibly befall us. That’s the only way we can really know that we’re well prepared — and it’s easy to be optimistic when you’re prepared. And it only makes sense to prepare for market crashes, because they’re inevitable and inescapable. Here’s our game plan for dealing with them.

The Use It Up Challenge, and Our Nothing New Year

We’ve got a new challenge for you! This one requires some context, which we share in detail in the post, but bottom line: the stuff we donate isn’t often ending up where we think. So we’re asking ourselves if donating and recycling are still the best course of action, or whether we should reconsider what we do with the stuff we no longer want. Join us, won’t you?

2017: The Year of “No”

Happy new year! The last year of work was super stressful for us, and we’ve been mulling the question of whether we should or even can care less at work — and whether that would solve the problem. But, we’ve come to a different conclusion about the root of the problem, and it’s giving us a new directive for this year. Welcome to our 2017, the Year of No, preamble to our retired Life of Yes.

Recognizing the Difference Between Burnout and a Dead End

Anyone aspiring to retire early can list off a million reasons why we want to quit working, but what’s interesting is that most of those reasons have to do with work culture, not with work itself. On some level, we all crave the meaning and satisfaction that come with work, but the realities of modern work are very different from that work ideal. Learning to recognize the difference between work itself and work culture — and likewise the difference between job burnout and a true dead end career — can help us zero in on why we want to retire early to begin with.

Asking for More and Getting It // 2016 Goals Review + 2017 Goal Setting

We’re thinking a lot lately about asking for more — asking for the compensation we deserve at work, and asking more of ourselves. And now, it’s official: in 2016, we successfully did both. Today, the story of how I negotiated for more money at work, and how we rose to the higher challenges we’d set for ourselves this year. Do we consider 2016 an unqualified success? Read on!

The Great Flip-Flop // How We’ve Reversed Roles on Our Retirement Timing

Lately I’ve been making it sound like we both want to retire as soon as humanly possible, but that’s not true. I’m the one who wants out ASAP, while Mr. ONL is playing the role of the financially prudent one and trying to keep us working for one more year, as we’d always planned. But that’s not where we started — he used to be the one who wanted to quit ASAP, while I wanted to be sure we were prepared times ten. Today: the story of our retirement timing role reversal.

Not Fostering Comparison // Are We the Joneses?

Today we’re reflecting on comparison — when it can be good, when it crosses the line, and if it’s even possible to know when you’ve crossed that line. We work hard to share our story in a positive way that encourages others, but lately we’ve been wondering if some of what we share inadvertently creates an arbitrary standard that begs comparison.

How Subsidies Make Early Retirement Possible, Even Without Obamacare

Subsidies are in the air right now, with them likely disappearing for health care under the next administration. But “subsidy” is just one word for a concept that most of us embrace openly and unquestioningly: the idea of incentives for things that provide a social good. Think tax credits and deductions, and public services across the spectrum. Today, how subsidies have made my success in life possible, and how they are making our early retirement possible, even without the ACA.

Resist the Pull of the Echo Chamber in Retirement

This is a non-political post at a politically charged time. When the news conflicts with our world view, it’s all too easy to avoid clicking on those stories, or to unfollow or ignore the people sharing their perspective. And while that may seem harmless, it’s a slippery slope from “unfollow” to unknowingly creating our own echo chambers. Here’s why that’s so consequential in retirement.

The Privilege of Retiring When We Want, How We Want // Three Case Studies

Today we’re sharing stories we haven’t talked about before: the early retirees we’ve known in our lives, and how their experiences retiring shaped their retirements. Spoiler: Though all of them retired early, none of them retired completely on their own terms — and stats show that that’s the norm. The majority of people are forced to retire before they want to. Here’s what we’ve learned from seeing their experiences.

OurNextLife.com // The Power of a Low Income in Early Retirement // Keeping Your Income Low to Maximize Health Insurance, Affordable Care Act and Income, Obamacare for Early Retirees

The Power of a Low Income in Early Retirement

Today, a post about the under-recognized benefits of spending less in early retirement, because spending less means earning less, and earning less means a whole bunch of benefits. (Psst: the biggest one is insulation from Obamacare price hikes.) Let’s take a deep dive into the many benefits that come with earning a low income in your early retirement years.

OurNextLife.com // Our Big Epiphany: We Will Earn Money In the Future // Earning Money in Retirement, Planning to Supplement Savings with Income in Retirement

Our Big Epiphany: We Will Earn Money in Retirement

Our early retirement plan has gone through a lot of iterations, but one thing has remained constant: our insistence that we never want to have to work again. But we’re starting to realize that we’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. Come join us as we trace our journey to our recent epiphany that we will earn money in the future, even after we retire.

Don't Check Out Early // Weathering the Home Stretch to Early Retirement -- Set goals, shape your legacy, give yourself something to strive for before you quit your career

Don’t Check Out Early // Staying Engaged in the Home Stretch to Early Retirement

We get the question a lot: “How do you stay patient en route to early retirement?” But we’ve realized that’s the wrong question we should all be asking. The biggest predictor of happiness in the journey to early retirement isn’t how patient or impatient we are, it’s whether we stay engaged or let ourselves disengage at work. That’s why we now say: Don’t check out early.

That Thing? You Don't Need It // Invest in things that add value to your life, not things that just add cache.

You Don’t Need That Thing // On Cachet Vs. Value

We are not the poster children for frugality or for minimalism, but we are constantly surrounded by people who have bought all these things. And we want to shout: you don’t need any of it! It only makes you look like you are good at something, versus actually being good at it. Here’s how we learned to separate the things that only add cachet from the things that add actual value to our lives.

OurNextLife.com // How Combined Finances Helped Us Get to FIRE Faster // We're big believers in combined finances *for us* (though maybe not for everyone!) // Married finances, money management for couples, couples' finances

How Combined Finances Helped Us Get to FIRE Faster

We don’t pretend to know whether what we do with our money will work just as well for other couples, but today we’re talking about something we do know for sure: We are going to be able to retire earlier because we have fully combined finances. We’ll also trace our history of money management as a couple, and look at the money-related feelings that give us extra momentum toward FIRE.

OurNextLife.com // How Well Do We Know Our Post-Retirement Selves? // Retirement changes people, Will we recognize ourselves?

How Well Do We Really Know Our Post-Retirement Selves?

We could only daydream about our future life and how different it will be from our current one for so long before we had to accept: Life won’t just be different. We will be different, too. For the first time, we’ll get to know the well rested versions of ourselves, and the less stressed versions. And it has us wondering: How well do we really know our post-retirement selves? And how well do we know post-retirement us, as a married couple? Let’s discuss!

OurNextLife.com // To Care or Not to Care // Work As Retirement Nears -- Care less at work, work less hard near retirement, Zero chill at work, DGAF at work

To Care or Not To Care // The Work Mindset As Retirement Nears

One of my favorite parts of FinCon was getting the chance to talk to bloggers who are ahead of us on their FIRE journeys, including several who are already retired. I asked them all if their last year of work was harder, and answers were mixed. It all seemed to come down to how much they cared about work in the home stretch, and it has gotten us wondering whether we can care less to make our last year less stressful.

OurNextLife.com // Creating Your Community // #FinCon16 Recap -- blogger community, personal finance bloggers, women bloggers, women who write

Creating Your Community // #FinCon16 Recap

I’ve just returned from FinCon16, my first time at the financial bloggers conference, and I’m completely brimming with excitement about it all. My vision for this blog is a lot more clear, but most of all, I was continually floored by the warmth, openness and generosity of the entire community there. It all got me thinking about communities we create, and how we can all connect — and I don’t just mean bloggers!

OurNextLife.com // Creating a Flexible Vision for Your Next Life / Life Vision in Early Retirement / Post-Retirement Life Planning

Create a Flexible Vision for Your Next Life // Presence Over Absence

Creating a vision for early retirement isn’t just important so you have cool stories to share — it’s crucially important to make sure you have a smooth transition into retirement, avoiding the declines in physical and mental health that many people experience, even in early retirement! Bonus: An update on our progress, and lots of graphics on creating a next life vision based on presence of awesomeness, not absence of work.

OurNextLife.com // Transitioning Our 401(k)s After We Retire // What To Do with a 401(k) post-retirement, How we'll shift our assets after we retire

Transitioning Our 401(k)s After We Retire

As we promised in our recent pre-retirement to do list post, we’re dedicating a whole post to the question of what we’ll do with our 401(k) accounts after we retire next year. Our 401(k) accounts make up a major part of our portfolio — and up to 100% of what we’ll live on after age 60 — so we want to be sure they’re taken care of.

OurNextLife.com // Pre-Retirement To Do List, Things to do before we retire, pre-retirement checklist

Our Pre-Retirement To Do List

As we get closer and closer to our retirement date, the idea that we are actually going to retire early is becoming real. And as we get closer, we’re creating a different kind of to do list — one less focused on saving, and more focused on mapping out everything we need to do before we pull the plug on our careers next year.

OurNextLife.com // What Are Your Deal-Breakers? When Does Early Retirement Become No Fun or Not Worth It? Early retirement deal-breakers

What Are Your Early Retirement Deal-Breakers?

We like to plan for pretty much every possible eventuality, and given that we’ve already put about as many contingency plans in place as we can, we’re still thinking about the question, What if things don’t go as planned? But now we’re on to the more metaphysical answers, not the financial ones, like: What are our early retirement deal-breakers?

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement and Financial Independence Blog | Working in Early Retirement | Portfolio Preservation | Increasing the Odds of Early Retirement Success

Rethinking Work in Early Retirement // Contingencies, Sequence Risk and Fail Safes

We have said from our second post ever that our vision for early retirement has never included mandatory work. And we’ve been more vigilant about this fact than probably any other in our early retirement plan. We’ve shifted our investments, we’ve changed our timelines, we’ve debated when to give notice, but we’ve never wavered on the no mandatory work idea. But… that might be changing.

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement and Financial Independence Blog // Adventure, Happiness, Mountain Living

The Retirement Lie Part 1 // Media, Social Norms and the Problem with “Average”

Today we’re kicking off a new periodic series called The Retirement Lie. We recognize every day how lucky/fortunate/privileged/rare we are for being able to pursue early retirement, primarily because we also recognize that just being able to retire at all is becoming increasingly unlikely for a large majority of people. In this series, we’re delving into the forces that are keeping people from retiring confidently and securely, beginning with the way media talk about retirement savings.

OurNextLife.com // Mr. ONL enjoying the view // What If the (Almost) Worst Happens? How will we adjust our early retirement plans if bad stuff goes down?

What If the (Almost) Worst Happens?

I am definitely a planner by nature, which means that we have all kinds of contingency plans, emergency preparedness plans, you name it. But I recently realized that I tend to plan for the worst only, and not for the almost worst. Today we’re talking about what happens if any of those not-quite-worst-case scenarios happen.

OurNextLife.com // A Different (Better?) Way to Turn Pro

A Different (Better!) Way to Turn Pro

Though we’re world-class in exactly nothing, and are in our late 30s, we actually have a lot in common with pro athletes. And we bet you do too! Let’s talk about the best way to enjoy a life filled to the brim with outdoor adventures or whatever you’re passionate about… even naps!

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Financial Independence, Mountain Living, Adventure, Simplicity

Don’t Wait. Do It Now.

The massacre in Orlando reminds us that nothing is guaranteed, and while we can’t do everything, we can do those things that are most important. So today, a call to action. Whatever you’ve been putting off, stop putting it off. Do it now.

All the Secrets of Our Success // A Compendium

Today is a “clip show” post of sorts, putting together for the first time all of our money beliefs and actions that have gotten us where we are today. We spend a lot of time looking forward, and projecting future health care needs, where our income could come from and of course all the feelings. Today we’re sharing the master list, the grand compendium of everything that’s helped us get this far in our journey to early retirement.

OurNextLife.com // early retirement, financial independence, adventure, mountain living, world travel

How Will It Feel to Actually Spend Our Investments?

We’ve spent more than a decade building up our savings and investments, all the while granting them a special status by not touching them. Even shelling out $8,000 for our tax bill this year felt painful. The pain of paying that bill made me wonder if I have “special occasion thinking” around our investments. And if, when it comes time for it next year, we’ll actually be able to spend our investments. Let’s explore…

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Financial Indpendence, Adventure -- Green Ferns header photo

Planning for Health Care in Early Retirement

We value our health pretty much above everything. If we had a such thing as a “health portfolio,” it’s safe to say we’d value that above its financial counterpart. Something we are thinking a lot about is how we’ll ensure that we always have access to good quality medical care at every stage of our lives. Here’s the rundown of options we’re currently considering as the landscape keeps shifting.

“Won’t You Be Bored?” and Other Questions You Hear on the Road to Early Retirement

One of the funny things that happens when you’re open about FIRE plans is you get some questions that might seem ridiculous on their face, especially from people who haven’t yet had their minds blown by how achievable some form of early retirement is for plenty of folks, or who have never allowed themselves to dream about a life without the necessity of work. Rather than dismiss those questions out of hand, let’s actually dig into them.

OurNextLife.com // early retirement, financial independence, adventure, simplicity, mountain living

Reconsidering When to Give Notice

The current debate in the ONL house is when to quit our jobs. Barring a major market correction, we feel pretty good that we’ll hit our magic numbers ahead of schedule next year, possibly as early as Q2 of 2017. But of course before we can quit, we have to give notice. And that brings with it a whole bunch of other questions. Here’s how we’re thinking about them.

OurNextLife.com // early retirement, adventure, mountain living, financial independence

Crafting a Life That Keeps the Stoke High

It’s easy to think of early retirement as all about the escape. But then what? We don’t want any part of our life to be defined solely by absence, by its lack of something, in our case the lack of work. We want our lives to be defined by presence, to be lived in the affirmative, the ultimate opt-in to what fires us up and makes us launch out of bed in the morning. That’s why we’re busy crafting a life that keeps the stoke high.

Make Sure Your Vision Includes Joyful Generosity

Thinking about how we want to be remembered, we always come back to this idea of leaving the world in better shape than we found it, even if it’s only in little ways. And as early retirees, we’ll be in a unique position to do that, because we’ll be able to spend most of our time on projects that are important to us, that help our community, instead of focusing solely on earning a living. Here’s why we think everyone should build some joyful generosity into their life plan.

The Frugal Habits We Don’t Miss for One Second

We constantly come across new tips on how to get to “optimal frugality,” and while we think it’s great to continually try to optimize your spending, something that we now know to be true is that there’s never a point of ultimate optimization, a point when we have everything figured out perfectly. Rather, it’s an ongoing process of dropping habits and adding new ones. Here are some we’re happy we’ve dropped.

Rethinking the Emergency Fund

A lot of what we talk about here is specific to people on the early retirement path, but today’s topic is something every single one of us should have as an important part of our financial plan: an emergency fund. We think of our emergency fund not as a one-and-done kinda thing, but as something that has evolved upward and downward over time. And now, as we’re approaching early retirement, we’re once again rethinking how much we need to have saved in our e-fund when we hit our magical date.

Dreaming in Maximum Bigness

Early retirement will give us the incredible privilege of getting to dream big — and actually bring some of those dreams into the realm of the possible, the doable, the done. It’s not just about not working, although that’s a lovely thought all on its own – it’s about getting to do the things that most people only dream of, that can’t be done with three weeks of vacation a year, that can’t be done as just a side hustle. Let’s dream in maximum bigness!

How My Audit Fears Dictate Our Taxes

I have a super visceral memory related to taxes that I still carry around with me. My parents divorced when I was in high school. The divorce itself was fine, but what was not fine was watching them get audited post-divorce for a year in which they had been married. It was the worst I ever saw of my parents, but it was also an important lesson in dealing with accountants and the IRS.

What Keeping Our House Cold Has Taught Us

We really aren’t frugal by any reasonable definition of the word. We never consider forgoing things we need. But I decided to look at our lives and see if there was any area in which we truly are frugal, and ask what that means for us. And there is one example: the thermostat. Here’s what keeping our house cold has taught us.

Invest More or Pay Down the Mortgage? // What To Do With Extra Funds

A tension we notice a lot in PF blogland is the question of whether to prepay the mortgage, or sink as much money as possible into market funds, and it’s a question we struggle with, too. In some imaginary world in which we could see into the future and see how the markets will perform, it would be an easy decision to make. Let’s dig into how we answer this question in reality.

Then January Happened // The Joy of Fluid Goals

the last time we talked finances, we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave at the end of 2015, back when it appeared that we were ahead of schedule on our early retirement goals. but now we are now experiencing the financial hangover, the realization that actual reality may shake out differently than we’d hoped. all the more reason to keep our goals fluid!

Going Out on Top // Retiring at the Peak

if you watched yesterday’s super bowl, you couldn’t miss all the speculation that peyton manning is going to retire after this season. what’s incredible is that peyton has the rare privilege of choosing to go out on top, on his own terms. not many people, in sports and in regular working life, get that choice.

Mapping Out Our First Year of Early Retirement

we’ve had that mythical first year of freedom on our minds in a big way lately. like any aspiring early retirees worth our salt, we spend lots of time thinking about everything we want to do when we have more time on our hands, but we’ve been getting more specific, and thinking about the things we’ll do as we adjust to our post-work era, and some of the big life goals that we want to tackle right away.

Our Next Life Turns 1 // Our First Blogiversary!

tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of our first ever post here, and as the tradition goes, we’re going to reflect a little about our first year of blogging here at our next life, as well as take a big look forward… and share some totally goofy facts about ourselves. but most of all, we want your feedback! we’d love to hear from you about how we can keep improving in year #2. so please chime in in the comments!

When We’re Not on the Same Page About Money

while it’s easy to paint a pretty picture here in blogland, the truth is that, despite all that counseling, and reading that book and others, and even despite being in complete and total lockstep with regard to our early retirement and life goals, we aren’t always on the same page about every aspect of our finances. we think it’s important to acknowledge that. here’s how we’re dealing with our current disagreement.

What Do You Want Your Tombstone to Say? // Defining Our Purpose

we have felt for years that, if something tragic happened and we died unexpectedly, we wouldn’t have a whole lot to show for our lives, or at least not the things that we’d want to be remembered for. rather than lament whether or not our accomplishments match our aspirations at this point in our lives, we decided to be the empowered authors of our own purpose. here’s what we mapped out.

Why We Take Willpower Out of the Equation

we think it’s easy to feel a bit hopeless in the face of financial hurdles if you’re not a person for whom financial virtues comes easily. if you’re not a natural saver, you’re not doomed to a life of financial misery. but, you have to know what your weaknesses are, and develop a system to work around them. here’s how we’ve built a system that doesn’t rely on willpower at all.

A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings // The Story of Our Worst and Best Investment

today we’re telling the story of the city condo we once owned, and which we’ve struggled to define as a “good” investment or a “bad” one. it’s a reminder that it’s not always easy to tell good decisions from bad decisions — or good investments from bad investments — but rather it’s about what those decisions do to your trajectory, and what other decisions they influence.

The Journey Is the Destination // Planning for Early Retirement Is the Joy In Itself

many of us who are on the path to early retirement can relate to the feeling of getting so focused on the future — this magical, perfect, supposedly better than real future where we have no stress and never have to deal with work drama — that it’s easy to miss out on what’s happening right in front of us. or of getting so caught up in our own little plans that we miss the big picture.

Make Thanksgiving Your Gratitude Day

we are huge believers that life is so much better and we’re so much happier when we approach things with a spirit of gratitude. but telling people how much we love and appreciate them is not something that most of us do enough, us included. but what better day than thanksgiving to break out of that pattern and let people know how much they’ve influenced our lives, even in little ways.

It’s Never Too Late to Define Yourself // Inspiration from Julia Child

we talk a lot here about redefining ourselves in early retirement, especially making sure that we consider before we actually leave our jobs how we’ll obtain self worth and fulfillment post-career. but we recently realized that redefining isn’t really the right word to use at all. in thinking about the life that we truly want to live, and how we will thrive within that, there’s truly no re. the right word is simply “define.”

Our Next Life By the Numbers // Our 100th Post!

wow, you guys. though time doesn’t fly when you’re trying hard to retire already, it feels like just yesterday that we started this little blog to chronicle our journey to early retirement (actually it was about 10 months ago), and here we are, 100 posts later! we thought we’d celebrate the day with a rundown on some of the other numbers we’ve racked up while writing these 100 posts.

Our Golden Handcuffs // Sticking It Out in Stressful Jobs Until We Retire

we feel the sunday blues in a big way. and we know why: not only do we just not love having to work every day, we know that we’re in especially high pressure, stressful, occasionally soul-sucking jobs. but we didn’t just default into these golden handcuffs of ours, and we don’t stay in our jobs because we lack imagination. our choice to stay put in unsustainable jobs is a clear-eyed decision we’ve made, based on considering all of our options and deciding what’s most important to us. the most important thing? getting to our exit date as soon as we possibly can.

The Ten Questions to Answer Before You Retire Early

early retirement is a bfd. and it’s not for everyone. it’s a very different path from the one most people follow for a reason, and it’s not one we should go down without having our eyes wide open. early retirement won’t magically fix everything we wish was different about us or our lives, and it comes with its own set of pitfalls and stresses. to help sort this out, we’ve put together a list: the ten questions you should be able to answer before you retire early.

Finding Your Kindling // Lighting Your FIRE with Contagious Flames

you know we love a good object lesson. recently we had one inexplicable morning when the fire just would. not. light. those days are a reminder that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. the answer: add kindling. the point of the kindling is not only to get us past those obstacles, and to get the fire going a little, but to get those flames to start spreading — and spreading fast.

The Anti-Greed Manifesto // Early Retirement Is About “Enough”

we’ve both come across a seemingly frequent but also puzzling (to us) phenomenon while perusing new blogs. when aspiring early retirees are telling people in their lives about their plans to retire early, they’re getting negative responses. one of which has us utterly befuddled: the assertion that the accumulation of assets required to retire early constitutes pretty much the worst quality we can imagine: greed. here’s our response, in manifesto form.

Changing How We “Spend” Our Time // Mindful Spending and Budgeting Aren’t Just About Money

so many of us have had the experience, before we got smart about our finances, of not knowing where our money went. as i was reading another blogger’s post about that last week, i had the thought: “where did the day go?” where did the money go? where did the time go? these are not such different questions. here’s how we’re changing our mindset around time, to see it as our most precious asset.

All the Charts // Our Progress Toward Early Retirement

today we’re sharing the clearest glimpse yet into where we are on our journey toward early retirement in money terms, along with a detailed breakdown of how we plan to fund both our early retirement and our full retirement. we’re talking percentages instead of absolute numbers, but are going into a lot more detail than we ever have before. that’s right: it’s all the charts.

This Is Not My Beautiful House // This Is Not My Beautiful Wife

last week on an early morning flight, i flew over a line of cars on a major commuting artery, already in bumper-to-bumper traffic before the sun was up. and i wondered: how many of those people, as kids, dreamed that, one day, after slaving away at school for more than a decade, going to college and doing all the right internships, their reward would be this: soul-crushing traffic? that they’d rise before the sun for the privilege? that this would be their destiny?

Living in a Small Town // Good for Finances, But Not for Everything

we’ve mentioned many times that we live in a small town, and very deliberately moved here as a part of our early retirement plans. while we for sure could have still saved for retirement in the expensive city we came from, it would have taken longer, and we wouldn’t have had the lifestyle we wanted. and we’re happy living in our small mountain town, though it’s not all sunshine and roses. here’s our breakdown of the pros and cons.

How We Went from Ballers to Savers, and Lived to Tell the Tale

one of the things that’s different about us, compared to lots of bloggers in the pf community, is that we are not frugal by nature. at some point, we realized that all of that spending, even if it wasn’t on stuff, was still locking us into needing our jobs, and needing them for a long, long time. and since we value time more than anything, and were in a position to make early retirement a reality, we knew we’d regret not changing our ways. but it hasn’t always been easy. here’s how we lived to tell the tale.

Adjusting Our Goals // Rolling With the Market Punches

we’ve been tracking our numbers for years now, and have always set annual goals for ourselves in terms of savings and mortgage paydown. but crazy as it may sound for us to say this, we’ve never defined those goals in terms of strictly what we would contribute. we’ve only defined our goals in terms of total balance. but with only goals about total balances, we now feel like we’re failing in the current market landscape, when the truth is that we’re saving more than ever. here’s how we’re adjusting our goals.

On Still Not Sharing (Most of) Our Numbers // Talking Finance With No Finances

one of our earliest posts on this blog was about how we don’t share our numbers. it’s mostly because, one day not too far off in the distance, we will drop this whole anonymous charade, and we don’t want all the details of our finances attached to our names and faces. in our culture, money comes with meaning and prejudgments. having x amount means you’re supposed to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, spend a certain way. we don’t want those expectations to precede us.

The “Our Next Life” Series // Time to Join In!

our bloggy buddy steve, who writes think save retire, started the about series a few weeks back that all bloggers are invited to continue, and more recently wrote a series on his own blog that he dubbed the “our next life” series. we love the name, obviously, and thought — why not also make it a series that we all contribute to? so this is our take. and we’d love for you to write your own and link back! who’s in?

Progress and Uncertainty on the Road to Early Retirement // Mid-Year Check-In

looking at things big picture, we’re astonished at how far we’ve come in a short time, aided in large part by jobs that overpay us. since we bought the house four years ago, our net worth has tripled, and the year-over-year gains are pretty big, owing to us getting serious about saving and about paying off the house quickly, as well as growth in the markets since 2009.

Our DIY Life // How We Save (and Sometimes Splurge) By Doing It Ourselves

we have always loved doing things ourselves. what’s funny in retrospect is how little the money piece has mattered to us in questions of diy, at least with the small stuff. but of course that was then. and this is our running-like-hell-toward-early-retirement now. money matters. especially the saving of it. so now when we diy things, it’s just as much about saving money as it is about the joy of making something.

How We’ll Learn to Stop Worrying and Love The Budget // Managing Our Finances in Retirement

we never hide that we are not frugal by nature, we’re not budgeters, and we’ve really only succeeded at retirement saving by employing a pay ourselves first approach that is essentially tricking ourselves into thinking we have far less to spend than we actually do. that is all well and good for now, but things will definitely have to change once we quit our jobs at the end of 2017.

Feature on Canadian Budget Binder

happy weekend, friends. just a quick post today to share that we’ve got a feature this weekend on canadian budget binder. cbb features bloggers every weekend in the “making a difference series,” and this weekend it’s our turn. thanks, cbb! hop on over to canadian budget binder to […]

Goals, Reality and Quirks // Our Asset Allocation

don’t let any of our more philosophical posts fool you — we’re still total nerds, and we love tracking every possible aspect of our early retirement plan as much as the next guy. but, we don’t share our numbers here, which has sometimes made it tough to explain some of our more unique circumstances, like our need for a two-part retirement.

Spending On Our Health, Our Most Important Asset

lots of being healthy is absolutely free: getting outside to exercise in the fresh air, choosing not to smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding toxic people. and we do all of that stuff. but we also spend out on our health in some big ways, and plan to do even more when we’re retired. some of these expenditures may not seem health-related, but we see them that way, and that makes them worth it to us.

learn to camp, and save lots of money over traditional travel

we’ve realized in recent years that the world is divided into people who think of themselves as campers, and those who don’t. and the latter group may find the very concept of camping intimidating for a whole host of reasons. we’re here to tell you non-campers that it’s much easier than you think, it’s not as dirty as you might imagine, there are ways to make it plenty comfortable, and you can really take camping to any level you want, starting simple and working up to more advanced forms.

on not following a budget

for us, trying to follow a line-by-line budget feels both overly restrictive, and too much like a diet in which you’re tracking calories. it’s not sustainable. following a budget makes us constantly want to cheat, or wonder when the diet is over. but we’re doing just fine without a budget!

moving on from badass

the word “badass” gets thrown around a lot in personal finance/financial independence circles. that’s not the full story. all of us who are working toward or have achieved financial independence have one big thing in common. we’re lucky.

how we travel on the cheap

when we travel now, we do just about everything we can to keep expenses low, so that it doesn’t set us back in our early retirement savings, and so that we don’t get used to “travel inflation” that would make it hard to adjust once we’re on our early retirement budget. here’s how we travel without setting ourselves back financially.