the process

The About Series // What Is Our Next Life?

today we’re continuing the about series started by think save retire. we love this idea, and hope you’ll do it too! the idea is to share details not covered by your “about” page.

why did we start this blog? no one knows, when starting a blog, if anyone else will ever see what you write. we knew that going in, and started writing this blog for us. we know that life has a way of making you forget the details once you’re past some stage of your life, and then compressing that time period in your memory. we’re on the road to early retirement, and when we started this blog back in january, we were just about three years from our planned fi day. we wanted to chronicle our journey of getting to early retirement, so that we’d one day be able to look back and remember what this time in our lives was like. we’ve written about the importance of living for today even when you’re running like hell toward some future goal, and we didn’t want to gloss over this period in our lives. we were also inspired by a lot of travelers who write beautiful blogs accompanied by gorgeous photography, and we always assumed we’d start one of those once we retired. but we decided there was no reason to wait — that we could chronicle our journey leading up to early retirement, and then continue chronicling our very different journey after pulling the ripcord.

what’s the point of our next life? we think of our next life as a “life blog” that exists in the personal finance space. we write about money principles sometimes, but we think lots of other bloggers have that stuff covered. we started with the goal of chronicling what we were going through in planning for early retirement — the feelings. the actual feeling that induced us to start writing was when we actually felt more tied to our jobs by our fire plan than we would have if we had no long-term financial goals, which was something we hadn’t heard anyone talk about. pretty quickly, we were surprised by how many of you awesome humans started connecting with us and having great conversations, and we revised what we see as our blog’s value. what we try to spur, now, are conversations about the non-money side of early retirement: what does it feel like to prepare for early retirement? how will we define ourselves without careers? what will our early retirement look like? what might we actually miss about work? and when we do write about money, it’s just to share what works for us, never to espouse one-size-fits-all advice, like how we pay ourselves first, or even the best bad money decision we ever made. because we’re not frugal by nature, and we’re not certified financial planners. we’ve just found a system that’s working for us.

what do we get out of it? our next life is not our first blog, but it’s definitely the one that has excited us the most. our other blogs have been on equally specific topics, but in communities that are far less supportive than the pf space. the connections we have with all of you are what keep us motivated to write, even when we don’t feel like we have anything to say. so if you’re a lurker by nature, and aren’t into commenting, consider commenting somewhere, even if not on our blog. the connections you make might just change your life. they’ve definitely made a big impact on ours! you guys help keep us accountable, and have helped us ramp up our savings even more. you’ve also kept us eager to engage in the pf blogland community, where we learn new things all the time. plus, it’s just fun. that counts for a lot.

what’s the name all about? we wanted the blog name to be a reflection of our current aspirations, with a vaguely mystical sound to it. and just like with reincarnation, we hope that our next life will be one in which we are more evolved, more conscious, and serve a higher purpose than our widget-making, stressful careers now. (we don’t actually make widgets, but we might as well.) we feel super crazy lucky and fortunate to have the privilege of planning for early retirement, and we plan to make the most of every single day in our next life.


what’s in our blog header? we’re hiding out in all the pics in the header. the ms. is in the pics on either end, and the mr. is in the two in the center. the pics gives the deceptive impression that the ms. is the jockish one, when it’s actually the other way around. we just love those shots, and they represent what our next life is all about: getting off the beaten path and spending more time exploring the most beautiful places on the planet.

who writes our blog? we’ve never intended to obfuscate the voices here. mostly we just have no practice at taking on alter egos, and so the whole idea of code names for ourselves has felt, if not odd, at least like something neither of us were keen to pounce on. so we’ve never labeled ourselves as mr. onl and mrs. onl. or any of the other clever monikers that readers have suggested. (though thanks for those!) and, one day, we will reveal who we are. the industry in which we both work is a small and insular world, where total loyalty is required, and we’d be quickly found out. we can’t risk that, because we now live in a small town where we couldn’t reproduce our current income level, and that would mess up our whole plan. but we’ll come out from behind the curtain as soon as we can! in the meantime, we’ll share that it’s our female half who does 90 percent of the writing here, and is our voice on twitter. but we don’t anticipate that to be the case forever. the mr. just has a more demanding job, despite the fact that the ms. travels far more for work, and hasn’t had the time he’s wanted to write. despite the division of labor so far on the writing, we’re equal partners in all things finance and planning, and we talk about most of our blog topics before we actually write them out.

where do we think the blog is headed? in our past blogs, we’ve done ads and even a few sponsored posts. we’re not eager to do those things again. and while we won’t promise that we’ll never monetize the blog in some way, that’s more than we want to think about right now. we also just like that our little part of the internet has no flash ads on it, and nothing that we don’t want here. as far as where we’re headed on content, we don’t know! we don’t have any big goals here, except to keep connecting with more people, and continuing to get closer to early retirement. we would love input on content you’d like to see, so please leave a comment or email us at ournextlifeblog [at] gmail dot com if you have thoughts!

what are some random fun facts about us that we’ve never shared here before? we mostly eat healthily, but we have a completely juvenile weakness for tater tots. we love rollercoasters, but not spinny rides. we’re super goofy with each other, and we’re actually kind of glad that not having kids will never force us to grow up. but we can completely nerd out on serious stuff — we watch frontline and read the economist, and manage our money like grown-ups. we each think the other is the funniest (and cutest) person we know, which makes us feel all kinds of lucky. and on the less schmoopy front, we’re diehard fans of the football teams from our home towns, but we don’t care too much about any other sports. we’ll happily attend any sporting event in person, though.

and finally…

why no caps? haha — we’ve gotten this question a few times. we just think that all lowercase looks a lot calmer and more relaxed, and that’s the vibe we’re going for.

okay, in the spirit of sharing, what’s one fun fact about you that you feel like telling all of us? and who’s up for continuing the about series challenge??

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38 replies »

  1. While I am a recent reader, I have enjoyed your approach and blog posts. I think the whole idea of retirement is very interesting and quite individual. Me, I want to make the most of my life here in my city, and what I value is time. I have worked in a big city and have travelled a lot for pleasure. Now, I want to explore my area and live it fully daily. So, at 48, I moved from the bigger city to my home town and thought I was leaving my career too, but the more things change, I actually am now working back in my industry, along the same vein but different, and work part-time and also can work from home for portions of each week. I have never wanted a traditional retirement idea. I will always want to get out of the house a couple of days a week. That is where I am.

    • Your plan sounds wonderful! If we could do our jobs part-time, we’d definitely consider a different trajectory for ourselves. But we can’t, so we’re just rushing to get out ASAP. :-) The upside is that we’ll have time for extended travel off the grid, but the downside is the pace is borderline insane in the meantime. Your situation sounds much more sustainable!

  2. Fun fact: I also love tater tots! This weekend is the second time that I’ve accidentally grabbed crispy rounds (think coin sized tater tots) instead of tater tots. I was distracted by the debate in my head of “5 lb bag at 4.96 cents an ounce or 1 lb bag at 5.1 cents per ounce?” No need to eat up the freezer space with 4 lbs of potatoes, so I grabbed the small bag and didn’t notice until I got home that they weren’t even tater tots! GAH!!!! It’s just not the same… Not the same at all….
    I’m a diehard Saint’s fan, even though I grew up in KY. I picked them as “my team” when my mom told me I couldn’t “Just root against the Cowboys”. I still mostly root against the cowboys but have been a loyal “Saint” since the late 80’s when the fans wore bags on their heads. I thought, “Hey, these guys suck, so they’re bound to get better eventually.” Little did I know it would take over 20 freaking years… Hahahahaha

    • We’ve been known to mix it up occasionally and buy crispy crowns. :-) But they aren’t available in the much-better-value 5 lb bags!

      I think rooting against the Cowboys is a totally valid way to watch football! ;-) We both do it, though also have our own teams.

    • See, I love this – we’re learning about bloggers in the comments section here too! Growing up a Redskins fan in northern Virginia, I definitely understand “just root against the Cowboys”. :)

  3. Nice contribution to the About Series – you killed it! And for some reason I had always thought that it was Mrs. ONL who does most of the writing. I can’t point to any particular place within your writing that gives me that impression, though.

    It’s interesting that you were three years away from your FI Date when you started this blog – well, interesting because *you actually knew your retirement date*! All my wife and I knew when we started our blog was that we wanted to retire early, but have no idea when. My only real plan was to retire some time before I hit 40.

    Hmm, a fun fact about me…I’m a fitness fanatic! I’m at the gym 10 to 12 times a week, easy (yes, that means multiple times a day). After retirement, that WILL change, of course, but it’ll hopefully get replaced with more cardiovascular exercise in the form of hiking, rock climbing and white water rafting. :)

    • As a former gym rat, 12 times per week still sounds crazy! Do you do weights and everything, too? (Assume you do!) Will you tote a Soloflex along with you in your Airstream when you retire? Ha! ;-)

      We knew our retirement date for reasons that will make more sense after we quit and explain all the backstory. We basically decided we couldn’t take more than one more super stressful period, and built our date around that, and now we’re trying hard to make the money part work out in time.

      The he vs she thing is funny. We’ve gotten a few emails from folks saying a husband and wife have a wager about which of us is writing — it has most often seems that men hear a man’s voice in the posts, and women hear a woman. We’ve enjoyed being a Rorschach test of sorts. :-) But you sleuthed it out!

      • Yup, I’m big into weight training, but I do bodybuilding-style training, not strength training. Basically, I don’t care how much weight I can lift as long as a look and feel healthy and athletic. I love the feeling of walking out of the gym with nothing left in the tank.

        I know, I’m strange. :)

        Regarding your back story, I believe you had hinted at that in one of your previous articles, and it was some kind of a healthcare issue…but I’m not completely sure, of course. If I’m connecting the dots correctly in my head, though, I definitely see where you are coming from, and your drive to retire early and enjoy life is the *best decision that you could possibly make*. And strutting around in your RV will make it even better! :)

      • Haha — Not sure we’ll have much room to strut around in an R-Pod, so how about if we just strut around the outside of it? ;-) Not like we’d be able to in your spacious Airstream!

  4. You guys are doing great putting more good out into the world and being among the most supportive of the PF community. Thank you for your goodness and your contributions. Fun fact about me: I love the rain. I think I grew gills growing up in Oregon and now when it rains in Alaska (which isn’t rare, but certainly isn’t as common as Oregon), my gills open up and I get all excited. If it’s really down-pouring, I like to run outside and wash the cars with rags. Free car wash and I get to be in the rain!

  5. It’s so inspiring to find out the different trajectories available towards making dreams come true and leading fulfilling lives. Good luck with reaching your retirement goal (it’s fast approaching!) and looking forward to your thoughts on life after career.

  6. Since finding you guys I’ve loved many of your posts and could relate to almost all of them. What a let down to know that you guys like tater tots, possibly the worse thing you can do to a potato!

    Fun fact about us: we are trying to visit the highest point in all 50 states as a family. We are currently up to 9 (NC, VA, DE, NH, VT, MA, CT, PA, RI) with plans to hit 3 more this fall (WV, MD and NJ)

    Quick question for you: what are you climbing in the photos in the logo?

    • Haha — tater tots forever! In truth, we pretty much enjoy anything you can do to a potato, with the exception of instant mashed potatoes. Sure would make our camping trips easier if we could just eat mashed potatoes like every other backpacker, but sadly…

      The notable rock in the blog header is the Shark Fin in the Alabama Hills, with Mt. Whitney in the background, which must be on your future list. The other climbing photo is just a random beach crag. (Email if you feel strongly that you wanna know.) :-)

      Your 50 state high point challenge sounds great, and love that you’re doing that as a family! Have fun on your upcoming outings.

    • Walking up Whitney is a lot more work than climbing up the little half pitch shark fin. :-) But still doable! We saw some very out of shape people summit.

      Now if you’re talking about Denali…

  7. All of this is super interesting, but I found myself drawn to two items in particular. The first seems to have caught the attention of several folks: tater tots. It just made me laugh. The second: no caps is soothing. I’d never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Before I “knew” you, I thought it was some new hipster way of writing. We have a lot of hipsters in Austin. They seem the type to eschew capitalization. Or maybe that’s capitalism. Anyway, good stuff.

  8. What I love most about your blog is how I feel relaxed every time I come here to read your posts. Reading your blog is like drinking hot chocolate on a cold night! I like how I don’t get any ‘this is what you should do’ or ‘try this’ from this blog but I still want to try and follow the path that you’re on because I feel inspired to. As always, thanks for sharing your journey with all of us! :)

    • Nicest comment ever. :-) That’s definitely the vibe we’re going for (we have no business telling anyone else what to do! talk about the blind leading the blind!), and are just sharing our journey for whatever that’s worth. How incredible to hear that it’s inspiring to you. <3

  9. I am probably in the minority here, but I do not find the lack of caps calming. In fact it makes it harder to read. With no caps, finding the end of a sentence is difficult, making the reading challenging. There is a reason that punctuation and grammar has rules.
    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the content and will still continue to read through as I am enjoying following your story.