OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Happiness, Adventure // Blogging about our journey to early retirement in 2017 at ages 38 and 41!goals

All the Sparkles // 2016 Q2 Financial Update

This is a post I’ve been dying to write for weeks now, and you’ll see as you read that I was powerless to contain the excitement. We got ahead of schedule on our journey to early retirement at the end of last year, which motivated us to up our game even more. As of the end of the first quarter of 2016, we were seeing faster progress from our stepped-up efforts. And now, at the end of Q2, we’re seeing a whole bunch of options open up to us. :::It’s haaaaappppppening:::

A Quick Rewind

Early last year, when this was still a baby blog (with headlines still in all lowercase — ha!), we proclaimed to all the internet that we will retire at the end of 2017, no matter what. If we fall short of the numbers we hope to hit, we’ll figure it out, we’ll adjust. And that was an ambitious goal. We’d previously had what we called The Ten Year Plan, even though it was not much of a plan and had no actual timeline attached, which would have had us quitting around 2022. But at the start of 2015, we both said, “Let’s speed this thing up!” and we set as ambitious a course as we thought we could manage, and were off. But thanks in large part to the encouragement of this smooch-worthy PF community (that means you!), which we love deeply, we ended 2015 ahead of schedule, despite previously thinking that the goals we’d set for the year were a serious stretch.

Coming into this year, we got small raises which we’re sinking straight into savings instead of inflating our lifestyle, and we have the income from the personal loan we made which we’re socking right back into Vanguard, both of which are upping our savings rate. But we’ve also been doing more to constrain our spending with our non-budgeting approach, mainly by putting more money than planned into Vanguard at the start of the month, and then seeing if we can somehow make that work. If we still have money leftover at the end of the month, then we do that same amount again the next month, or maybe even raise it a little more. We found the point where that got painful, and that’s where we’re hanging out now. Kickin’ it at the pain point. (Name of our first album?) The result: our monthly contributions are significantly bigger than last year’s, even though our 2017 FIRE timeline didn’t require us to accelerate our progress each year. Result of the result: we keep getting farther ahead of schedule.

Major caveat: We know that we’re incredibly lucky to earn incomes that are more than we need. And our high savings rate is almost totally driven by the earnings side of things, not the frugality side. Yep, we’ve cut out plenty of things that we used to spend money on, but we’re under no illusions that we’re super frugal people, or even that “frugal” would be an appropriate term to use for people who can insource labor and make lower-priced purchasing decisions out of choice, not necessity. But we’re including this caveat here because we never want to contribute to savings rate shaming. (Boo! No shaming! All saving is awesome!) We save a lot because we earn a lot, and not because we’re superior beings. We’re not better than anyone who’s saving less, we’re maybe just luckier on this particular thing.

Where We Are Now

We now realize that we need no market help at all to hit our goals for the end of 2017, and so long as there’s not a seriously major market crash between now and then, we should end up with ample cushion. This is the Best. News. Ever. for a risk-averse person like me. Instead we find ourselves debating things like whether we could quit even earlier (Your consensus: Don’t be boneheads. Stick it out through 2017). Or whether we could pay off the house this year instead of next (we possibly could!). And we now watch crazy things happen, like our net worth going up this year by more than we’ve earned, with no trickery from upwardly adjusted property values. This is what happens when you do it right, and intellectually we know that, but it still fills us full of childlike wonder to see it happen in our actual accounts. :::Cue the sparkles:::

So with all that said, here’s our 2016 second quarter financial update!

OurNextLife.com // All the Sparkles - 2016 Q2 Financial Update // Come take a peek at our progress this quarter. There will be excitement, and lots of parenthetical asides, and sparkles. You've been warned. ;-)

The Big Picture

This has been a big year so far, both in terms of work being super busy and in terms of numbers coming up Milhouse.

Some sparkle-worthy moments so far:

Not everything is perfect, of course — we’re sleeping far too little, for example, and we’ve taken way too long to get maintenance projects completed at our rental property. Also, my desk is a mess, I’m behind on several guest posts, and I’m not sure when I washed my hair last. So yeah, a little TMI to balance it all out. ;-)

The Specifics

As always, a reminder that we don’t share actual numbers (here are the reasons why), but we do our best to give a clear picture of where things stand through a range of colorful charts and graphs. Let’s dive in!

Let’s start with the most blunt instrument, our net worth. It’s a lousy measure of early retirement preparedness, since it includes equity in our primary residence and rental property (though we haven’t changed their values in our calculations in two years), as well as a lot of tax-deferred 401(k) funds that we don’t intend to touch for a long time.

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Happiness, Adventure // 2016 Q2 Financial Update

Our net worth has grown this year, and looks to be approximately on track to continue the trajectory of the past few years by the end of 2016, especially when you factor in our year-end deferred compensation (easier just to call it a “bonus”). But this doesn’t show that our 401(k)s, which we don’t need for 20ish years, are underperforming while our taxable funds, which we do need in the short-term, are growing fast. For that, we need to look at the breakout.

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Happiness, Adventure // 2016 Q2 Financial Update

In the breakout, we see that those big 401(k) funds continue to fluctuate. We’ve been maxing out for years, so the savings rate on those is steady, and they’re big enough now that our contributions do little to affect the overall value at this point. But our taxable savings keep growing steadily despite market fluctuations thanks to our near-singular focus on growing them and continuing to increase our savings rate. And the mortgage balance, which includes our house plus our rental, keeps marching steadily downward, thanks to paying the regular monthly payments, and thanks to the more borrower-favorable amortization on 15-year mortgages.

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Happiness, Adventure // Our 2016 Q2 Financial Update, and progress toward early retirement!

Our taxable account balance is the one that matters most to us at this point, because 1.) our 401(k)s have already exceeded the amount we’ll ever need for age 60 and beyond, assuming fairly conservative growth, and 2.) we plan to have our house paid off by the time we quit our jobs. So growth like this in three months is a cause for more sparkles. But let’s put it in better context.

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Happiness, Adventure // Our 2016 Q2 Financial Update, and progress toward early retirement!

In this chart, the orange bars are what we need to have saved to meet our projections, and the blue bars are what we actually saved each year. We got a head start going into 2016, and we’ve accelerated our pace — we’re now sooooo close to our year-end target, and it’s only July. Assuming no big market corrections, we should be able to take a big bite out of 2017’s projected total this year, or make a much bigger than expected payment against the mortgage at year end. (Or quit early??) Which leaves us with my favorite chart of all…

OurNextLife.com // Early Retirement, Happiness, Adventure // Our 2016 Q2 Financial Update, and progress toward early retirement!

We first created this chart for the Q1 update, to show that you don’t need years and years and years to get to FIRE once you’ve cleared your plate of debt and made sure you’re not living in more house than you can afford. We’ve had two very focused years before this one, and we expect to have one more, for four total. We had assets before we started down this path with such intention, and got lucky by finding a house that’s a whole lot less than the banks would have liked to lend to us. We had debt in our early days, too (about $30K between my car loan, student loans and credit card debt), but it’s been gone for years. So we didn’t start from square one. But we also didn’t start, as the chart shows, from especially far along either.

At the start of 2014, we had only about 20% of the funds in our taxable accounts that we’ll need to sustain us in early retirement, and now we have 78%, up from 71% at the end of March. But the best part is: All we have left to save in our taxable accounts is about double what we’ve saved so far in 2016. Even with smallish bonuses and no raise at the end of this year, we should be able to hit this by June 2017 pretty easily — assuming no major market downturns, of course. We still have to pay off the house, so there will be other demands on our money, but saying I’m pretty happy to know we’re on track to hit our numbers early is the understatement of the month. (Just picture me over here shimmying with spirit fingers, and you’ll get a sense of the level of sparkles I’m feeling. Mr. ONL is excited, too, but on him that looks like pretty much any other day.) ;-)

Goals for the Rest of 2016

Our goals for the rest of the year are pretty simple: Don’t let the excitement of this great progress derail us. Stay the course on savings rate. Keep finding our chill on volatile market days (I didn’t look at our accounts through the whole Brexit kerfuffle! Progress!). Find more ways to give back, especially at year-end once we know how bonuses will shake out.

At the end of the year we’ll also do some more calculations, like whether we should still max our 401(k)s next year, how much cash to start stockpiling in 2017 so we have a multi-year cushion when we quit, and how much to budget for health care once we know who the next president will be. But those are all posts for another time! :-)

Your Turn!

Now the floor is yours! How was your Q2? Anything you’re feeling all sparkly about? Any questions you have for us? Please share in the comments! The interactions and friendships with you guys are why we do this, and we love it all. :-)


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124 replies »

  1. Way to go guys, keep up the sacrificing and aggressive saving and you’ll hit those 2017 goals for sure!

    • Thanks, Scott! It doesn’t even feel like sacrificing, which is the most amazing part. :-) We are just living a different way, but still getting plenty of joy out of life!

    • Thanks! I think you might be the only one who looks forward to the health care posts — haha. But it’s definitely something we think about a lot, so we’ll for sure write about it more!

      • haha, yea…I’m kind of a dork. In my career I always see it from a different stand point, it is embarrassing that I learned more about it from blogs than from my profession! Let the healthcare blog posts commence!

      • It IS super bizarre to me that health care seems to be the one area in life where no one has any idea how much things cost. I know it’s taboo to say this, but sometimes I wish going to the human doctor was more like going to the vet, and they’d just say, “Well, you can do this, and it will cost you $X. Or you can do this, and it will cost you $Y. If you do nothing, that will eventually cost you $Z down the road.” But yeah, we’ll for sure keep talking health care periodically! :-)

  2. Capitals are important. They help distinguish between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse, and helping your uncle jack off a horse. Cheers for the blog, always well written

  3. Woot congrats on being almost-maybe-already-technically FI! Also 50% increase in savings is super impressive. If you don’t mind my asking (and I apologize if you’ve already covered this previously), what SWR are you at now/pushing for 2017?

    • Thanks, Taylor! Yeah, though we’re technically FI, it would be a super meager existence if we quit at this point, but the real goal is getting sooo close! Do you mean SWR as safe withdrawal rate? We aren’t technically using one for phase one (the gap years before 401k), but instead are using projections based on conservative rates of growth. We talked about it with hypothetical numbers in this post: https://ournextlife.com/2016/02/17/how-we-calculated-our-numbers-for-each-phase-of-early-retirement/. Once we hit 60 and can tap our bigger tax-deferred funds, we expect to increase our standard of living a bit, or at least have a nice cushion for higher health care costs, nicer travel, etc. And then we’re looking at a SWR of 3-3.5%. Is that what you were asking? ;-)

      • Okay, cool. :-) The math is way more complicated for early retirement, unfortunately, and it makes me really nervous for people when they apply 4% as a blanket rule across their entire retirement, since a big chunk of their assets are almost certainly locked away for a while. Plus, we’re believers that most of us will need a bigger cushion later in life, so spending in a level way across all the years feels risky. But then, you know, I’m also super neurotic about this stuff. Haha.

      • Yeah, I think flat SWR is just an easy heuristic for us early-in-the-process folks to know we are nowhere near close rather than a great planning technique for actual RE implementation. I really like your phased approach and will definitely be stealing it the closer we get to FI.

      • Agreed — as a ballpark measure, 4% is great. And please steal away! Knowing that this stuff is helpful to others is the best feeling. :-)

  4. I think it is huge that you didn’t panic during the Brexit kerfuffle (nice word!) If you weren’t checking accounts then, your plan is working wonderfully! Only feeling sparkly about paying off a rental property in the next few months to up the cash flow! Now heading out to kayak!

    • Yeah, I don’t think I would have looked at the numbers at all last week if I didn’t have to update the monthly spreadsheets and quarterly charts! I used to be the look every day type, so this is big time progress. :-) And paying off a rental property is not an “only” thing — that’s awesome! Wohoo!!!! And enjoy your time outside!

  5. Awesome progress!

    Smashing goals has got to feel good!

    Our Q2 was pretty good minus a few necessary extra expenses – investment accounts went up and debt went down – I can’t wait to see the savings rate boost once my Student loans are gone

    Summer is so expensive, we are definitely feeling the pain right now

    • Thank you! It DOES feel good! Good luck getting through the summer. ;-) It sounds like your savings and debt are all going in the right directions, which is what’s important!

  6. You’ve had a great progression all these years, congrats for being so consistent. It’s amazing to think that you guys only have one more spring to go before you FIRE, it’s so close already!
    Our Q2 has been great so far and it looks like we’ll go significantly beyond our savings’ objective for the year. We might even be able to cut 1 year off our FIRE date if we continue at that pace. :)

    • Thanks! While it has felt like a slog at times, I’m sure we’ll look back and be amazed at how fast it all went. Here’s hoping! And that’s so awesome that you guys are ahead of pace for your yearly goals!! Why stop at cutting 1 year off? Why not cut off a few?? We did it, so it’s for sure possible. ;-)

  7. Q2 was a good quarter for me. This is when my pension gets updated and my 401k matching contributions hit. I ratcheted up my 401k contribution so it will max out in July and then I can really hammer away at the taxable brokerage account once that is done. Glad everything is going according to plan (well actually exceeding plan)!

    • Wait, you have a pension?! How did you work that magic?? :-) I didn’t know people under 40 could even get those anymore!

      But sounds like you are rocking your plan for the year — it will feel awesome to max your 401k this month, and then focus on taxable!

  8. Wow! Those numbers are fantastic and the fact that you don’t need the market anymore (except for it not to crash!) has to be an amazing feeling! Congrats on the great Q2! I’m sure seeing these numbers continue to climb only creates more excitement for next year! :)

    Our Q2 was good overall. We are still on track to max out both Roth IRAs this year and should be able to hit my 401k (and a part of Mrs. IPD’s 403(b) when she starts working part-time again next month).

    • Thanks, Thias! It IS a pretty amazing feeling. Now I just feel like a contestant on Press Your Luck, but instead of “No whammies No whammies!” I’m shouting “No crashes! No crashes! No crashes!” ;-) High five on a great 2016 so far — that will feel awesome when you max all of that stuff out! And I hope Mrs. IPD’s job re-entry goes smoothly!

  9. AWESOME!!! I am also feeling pretty sparkly after a great savings month. We have cut out some of our “extras” plus June was a three paycheck month for one of us, which is always awesome because we budget for 24 paychecks and get 26. We were only just starting to figure out the taxable funds investment last spring, so we have doubled the taxable account in 12 months. Wow!

    Love the enthusiasm! This is the part where I usually start trying to fast-forward, because the big numbers don’t come in until end of year and I want the next savings-induced high, but I am not going to do it. It’s beautiful! It’s summer! Time to enjoy life!

    • Thanks!! And yay! I’m glad you had such a great savings month, too! We get paid on the 1st and 15th, so never have those 3-paycheck months… but we used to, and I remember them fondly! :-) That is so huge that you doubled your taxable account — high five! And I TOTALLY understand on wanting to zoom to year-end and the bonuses, but you’re so right. Let’s slow down and enjoy the beautiful summer weather! :-)

  10. I think we are slightly over 50% of our goals for Q2. We should be able to hit all of them by year end. Although not as close to FIRE as you, it is truly amazing to see how quickly progress is made once you get past the debt.

  11. So many sparkles! I’m so happy you’re on the ER list on Rockstar. Yours was probably the first FIRE blog that made me feel like I could achieve it but also pointed out the fact that it is harder for people who make less money/choose careers that pay less. I am so happy Q2 was so sparkly for you. You’ve definitely put in the work and the time! Q2 was when I opened our first taxable investment/savings account with Vanguard AND bit the bullet and really got persistent about finding better 403b options in my district. Our Vanguard account didn’t rally until Q3 (woohoo $21 HA!) and my 403b will be opened next week. But Q2 definitely set us up for a great Q3!

    • Thanks re: the RF list! That was pretty amazing validation. And it’s more awesome to know that we helped on the “FIRE is possible” idea… though, yeah, income sure makes a big difference! Yay on a great Q2 for you, too! I’m so happy you’re investing more and starting to keep less in cash. :-) And I’m so happy that you’re setting yourself up for bigger and better success in the near future! What I love most about our progress is how much it keeps accelerating — a lot of that is market driven, and a lot is because we keep getting more motivated, but there are definitely a bunch of virtuous cycles that have kicked in for us, and it sounds like they’re kicking in for you, too! :-)

  12. So far so good – we’re up nicely this year too and just continuing to slug it out until December. As you know, our goal is a retirement *date* rather than number, so it doesn’t matter too much what we have by the time that we officially call it quits. We’ll make it work. We always do.

    A big congratulations on your financial success this quarter. It’s nice knowing that you’ll have a fairly sizable buffer when retirement finally comes, and it definitely looks like you’ll have a gigantic one if you’re still gonna leg it out through 2017. Better having too much money than not enough! :)

    Now, back to the beach…

    • I’m honored that you took a break from your Baja beach vacation to comment! :-) Thanks for the congrats — we’ll make a real determination on quit date at the end of this year. If we could have a cushion and quit mid-year next year, we’ll for sure consider it! Or if this year-end is more middling, then it might still make sense to stick out the full year next year — if nothing else, we’re now talking about working long enough to buy a small class C RV, in addition to hitting our number and paying off the house. I’m sure you can appreciate that, at least the RV part! ;-)

  13. Here’s some spirit fingers for you!!!! Congrats on all of your hard work paying off. I can especially appreciate the fact that you started off in debt and made so much progress in a few years – very encouraging for someone like me who is still battling to repay our debt. We were kind of in a holding pattern for Q2 – expenses like my sister’s wedding, truck repairs, and surgery for our dog. But, we continued to pay off debt. I get a decent check for my tutoring side hustle at the end of the summer, so hopefully that will get the ball rolling in the right direction again.

    • Thanks for the spirit fingers! :-D We are definitely NOT a case of being successful now because we’ve made all the best decisions — we’ve had that debt and made plenty of other mistakes along the way! But I love that we can show how fast you can hit goals if you really focus — it really IS possible. I know what that’s like to have a quarter with high expenses, and that it can feel like a setback. But you guys have so much good momentum, and with things like that side hustle money coming in soon, I know you’ll feel like you’re moving forward again in no time. :-)

  14. Q2 was great! I’m on track for my largest net worth increase yet – thank you condo. Otherwise, just staying the course, nothing too exciting. My finances have finally become boring! :) The main thing we’ve been working on is decluttering, selling stuff, and exercise. I’ve resolved to drink 64 oz of water every day, which has been a huge commitment sadly.

    • That’s awesome! Yay!! We’re totally with you on the boring finances — but the growth part is the exciting piece. :-) Good luck with your exercise and water resolutions! Love that you’re doing that!

  15. I can’t believe that you’ll be able to get there with only four years of heavy saving. That’s so awesome! Soon enough, you’ll be able to take all the showers & get all the sleep.

    • Again, it totally helps that we earn quite a bit more than we need to live on, so we’d never argue that anyone can do this on the same timeline. But yeah, it does feel super awesome! And OMG — can’t wait for #allthesleep. :-)

  16. Amazing progress report! It’s beginning to look like 2017 may be all gravy for you. Lovely to have a cushion against the unexpected, or the opportunity to advance your quit dates should you choose to do so. Hats off to you!
    Q2 marked a turning point for us with regard to long term tax planning. After exhaustive research and modeling, and a multi-page printout based upon our best effort projections, it appears certain we will not benefit from a ROTH conversion ladder over the next five years (until I become eligible for Medicare, which will dramatically effect our deductions should the program remain essentially the same as it is currently). This has been swirling around my brain for a long time, given mandatory IRA withdrawals looming on the horizon for Mr. AR as well as my eventual receipt of social security income. It feels good to have some actual concrete data upon which to rely, even if it’s just our best estimates. I feel settled with regard to tax planning, at least for the next five years. We’re still debating a few large home repair expenses, and I’m leaning toward a break in this area after a few months of seemingly unending work around here, but we do have one major drainage issue we still need to address before the rains come, and at this point in time my thoughts are to really laser focus on saving as much money as we can between now and September in an effort to avoid or reduce pulling funds from our investments to get it done. By the end of Q3 I want the projects wrapped up for the year and a peaceful, less expensive Q4.

    • Thanks! I don’t think we’ll get to *all* gravy in 2017, but it is looking like it should be a lot of gravy for sure! :-) I’m so curious about your note on the Roth ladder — is it because you’re over the income limit? Or is there some other disqualification? So many people talk about relying on the Roth ladder, so I’m sure whatever you learned would be useful to lots of folks! Good luck getting that drainage issue resolved at your house — I’m still hoping you can get a break from home renovation projects for a while, both to save funds, and to save your sanity! :-D

  17. Great work!!! It’s so much fun to read your blog and right along with you get one step closer each day to FIRE. It’s a great community!

  18. Congratulations, I think you’re far too level headed to slack off so enjoy the sparkles. Also, well done for getting 40 – 50 miles walking every week, I’m seriously impressed – you must be fitting in more than 10 minutes a day:)
    I was looking at our Q2 earlier this week and spending seems to be going up, although as the retirement pot is in the bag we don’t have so much pressure to save. We’ve had a lot of essential stuff break down on us recently, we had to take the hit on a new camera as I need this for my travel writing and a few other household electrical items have given up the ghost and we’ve had to spend on new walking boots and you’ll know good ones don’t come cheap. Hopefully these expenses will calm down soon and we can get back on budget.

    • Haha — I have my non-level-headed moments. :-) But thank goodness our finances are basically automated, so it would take actual effort to derail ourselves. The hiking is a serious time commitment, and has come at the expense of essentially all of our other hobbies, but it’s been amazing to have so much time outside, and of course we feel better too.

      We know what that’s like when everything starts breaking — doesn’t it always seem like everything breaks at the same time? It’s like a conspiracy among our stuff. :-) I am with you on boots! Don’t cheap out on those! Do you have the Lowa brand where you are? I have become massive fans of the Ferrox model, which is all fabric and therefore lighter and cheaper, but still waterproof and with a solid vibram sole: https://www.lowaboots.com/womens/speed-hiking/ferrox-gtx%C2%AE-mid-ws.

      • Yes, we have Lowa boots here, they are excellent and are usually in the mix for trying but it is such a personal choice but yes we have bought light fabric boots for many years now, after struggling with leather in the early days. Mr BOTRA had some alpine boots in the 1980s that weighed so much I don’t know how he picked his feet up! But they were great with crampons, in the days when he was an Alpinist. I bought Salomon boots this time and I’m really pleased with them. We have walking boots for big mountain hiking (interesting that prices are similar to the US) and walking shoes / trail / approach shoes for less mountainous days and, of course, we have had to replace both this year. Mr BOTRA and I both bought Scarpa walking shoes and these are excellent and so comfortable. http://www.scarpa.co.uk/approach/cyrus-gtx-wms/

      • You’re so right that it’s totally personal, and depends so much on the quirks of our feet. :-) But glad you guys have found the joys of fabric boots! I love Salomons, too, so glad those are working out well for you! And thanks for the Scarpa rec!

  19. Congrats on your progress. Admire the determination and perseverance. Looking forward to following your journey.

  20. I can feel your excitement through the screen! Congrats, and enjoy that sparkly feeling. I just ran a trend line to see how my own net worth is looking compared with where I want to be in 2018 (when I finish residency), and the current projection puts me a little above and beyond my goal, so I’m feeling a little sense of sparkle as well.

    • Haha — Yeah, I can’t contain the excitement! :-) And thanks! That’s so awesome that you’re trending ahead of schedule on your goal! Sending lots of sparkles your way. ;-)

  21. Great work guys! It sure is nice to see that net worth graph going up higher and higher. Still 6 months to go this year and I’m sure you’ll meet all of your savings goals by end of the year.

  22. Great update!

    I especially like your caveat. When I read about how frugal some of my fellow bloggers are living, I feel like such a big spender. I don’t think we spend frivolously, but we’re not the most frugal out there and it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one.

    Our second quarter was strong as well. Traditionally, our best income quarters are Q1 and Q3, so during the off quarters, our numbers aren’t quite as impressive. But we focused on identifying a few alternative investment opportunities.

    Additionally, my private financial consulting business has started to take off beyond the initial core clients. I’m finding it much more fun working with individuals rather than large companies.

    Thanks again for sharing and congratulations on another great quarter.

    • Thanks, FS! Yeah, I think we as a community do a disservice to readers if we don’t get granular about how exactly we’re able to save. Extreme frugality (not that I actually think most of what people use that label for is all that extreme — compare any of it to the Great Depression, for example, and it will all seem pretty extravagant in comparison!) only gets you so far, but earning more gets you to your goal a LOT faster. But you’re for sure not the only ones. :-) Congrats on a strong quarter! And how exciting that your business is taking off!! So awesome. Sending you good vibes for a great Q3. :-)

  23. That’s awesome – congratulations! It’s so inspiring to read about people who have made FIRE a reality. If I was you, I’d find it very hard to keep working for another year and a half! Have you thought about “retiring” at the end of 2016 instead of 2017? Or is the bonus too enticing?

    • Thanks, Kate! And you’re totally reading my mind about not wanting to stick it out for another 18 months when we don’t technically need to. But yeah, the deferred part of our compensation is a pretty major percentage of it, and gives us a huge incentive to stay for full years. Depending how this year-end goes, we might start exploring how much of a prorated bonus we could each get if we quit mid-year next year, but we’ll wait on that one so as not to jinx anything. :-)

  24. Got a modest pay raise and paid off my car in the same month, which was enough to enable me to bump up my pre-tax 403b contribution to $1500/mo (the max, assuming I keep this up for a year, and this is in addition to my mandatory pre-tax contribution). Woot woot! Next step: opening a taxable account.

    • Thanks, Claudia! Every time I think about you, I think about your big house selling, and I still get super happy. :-D Can’t wait to hear about your next big milestone in Q3!

  25. I love this! 2017 is right around the corner, that feels like it’s practically tomorrow in online-land.

    Our Q2 update will go up next week and now I’m glad because I’ve been futzing around with charts trying to figure out how to show our numbers without showing our numbers – I love your style here. Mine won’t have quite as much good data unless I do some real digging but maybe I’ll do that for the year end updates.

    • Thanks! I wish real life would move as fast as online life… haha. We know our end date is right around the corner, but still So. Many. Meetings. to get through. ;-) I know we’ll look back, though, and feel like it was the blink of an eye. As for your charts, borrow and of these that are helpful! We have more to choose from in the Q2 update, year-end update and “all the charts” posts. I just don’t include every single chart in every update since it’s not super interesting to say, “And yep, our 401K balance is still above the number we need there. Woo.” ;-)

  26. I have the happiest of dances for you!

    Q2 is actually the first quarter that I have tracked my net worth, and, in true ZJ fashion, I did it in earnest. My net worth is super negative, but the percentage change is in my favor! I’m so happy about this.

    • Yay! I love happy dances!! :-) Thanks! So awesome that you’ve started tracking, and I know how it goes to go down that rabbit hole. ;-) Hooray for your numbers going in the right direction!

  27. Congrats on a great Q2 & 2016 so far. And for meeting your hiking goal and logging all those miles–that’s awesome! I love your disclaimer–your humility, gratitude, and realist perspective are much appreciated. We met a major goal this quarter so we’re counting it as a good one, too!

    • Thanks, Kalie! And I really appreciate you saying that about the disclaimer. Sometimes I wonder if the excitement comes across as a lack of gratitude or a feeling that we somehow “deserve” this more than others, so your note helps. :-)

      Big congrats on your major goal!! Wohoo for you guys!

  28. Hey,

    Awesome job on all of the sparkles! It is very inspiring to see how much progress when you put your mind (and money) to the cause. Great stuff. It particularly brings a smile to my face reading a lot of these comments who have been bloggers & readers longer than I have, seeing how much your journey & mindset has helped them. Thanks for sharing your internet words and bringing success to others :)

    Our Q2 sparkles are: Just moved our blog to self-hosted WordPress, signed up to do further qualification to help my career, achieved a first-ever month of 50% savings (we aren’t ultimate frugalers either, but considering our (current) low income, we’re proud of this), my weight dropping to 67kg from 75kg in 2015. Hopefully Q3 is awesome too :)


    • Thanks! :-) And that’s so nice of you to say, that we’ve influenced others. I’m sure we’re one of many voices doing that! It sounds like you had an AMAZING Q2, so big congrats! All of that is awesome, especially the 50% savings rate and weight loss. Keep up the great work! :-)

  29. Awesome job on Q2, and being so far ahead of your 2016 goals, that rocks! I don’t know that we ahve any crazy Q2 sparkles on our end, other than investments keep going up, days to work keep going down, and free time is at an all time high since we got out of grad school! Yeah! Plus, I think I’m more fit or at least more active than I’ve been since highschool. sure, I was active in CO, but I rarely exercised outside of hiking and fly fishing. I think my metabolism must have been doing some great compensating, lol.
    We have gotten to a point that we’re needing less and less from the markets to hit our 2018 target. I think we’re at 3% growth now for 2018 and at a “no crash” scenario for 2020 if it stayed stagnant.
    Hopefully, Q3 is just as nice to us. I know it’s only halfway through the year, but it feels like 2016 is almost over… At work, it’s going to get crazy for another month or so and then a massive re-org and implementation, and then we’re at the holidays… To me it always seems like these next 6 months fly by way faster than the first 6 months of the year.

    • Thanks, Mr SSC! It’s so awesome that you have been devoting so much time to being active — that will definitely pay a different kind of long-term dividend. :-)

      Let’s hope Q3 is good to all of us! And I hope the re-org at work isn’t too crazy — you guys have been through enough on that front!

  30. Wow, congrats you guys! So glad your year has been full of sparkles and hope it continues! P.S. Love the charts. Makes everything you’re explaining so much easier to “see” for us more visual folk ;) Can’t wait for your next update!

    • Thanks, Mrs. FI! We hope it continues too! And the charts are definitely the fun part. So glad we’ve found some ways to represent things without actual numbers… it would be a pretty dull update otherwise. Haha.

  31. Yay, congrats! So exciting! Lovely charts and graphs too, as always. :) I’m also impressed by all the hiking you’re doing — are you training for anything or just enjoying the outdoors?

    Yes, BOOOOO to savings shaming. It reminds me a lot of passive-aggressive diet talk: “Well, all *I’ve* had today is some coffee and half a bagel.” Ugh.

    • Thanks, Sarah! Haha –- I think doing the charts is one of my favorite parts of these updates. Re the hiking, we keep talking about climbing something this year but then we still haven’t planned which one to do and we’re quickly running out of summer. A lot of it is just so that I don’t hit early retirement and then have to build up my fitness level to where we can actually go out and climb big things. I want to be able to start right away!

      And yeah, the shaming. :-( I’ve seen a few posts by big deal people this very week with that sort of dieting talk about their spending, and I just want to hang my head. We should not be shaming anyone about anything, be it frugality or savings rate or anything else. We should be encouraging everyone!

  32. Whoohoo, congrats! (And thanks for making it clear that you have advantages. While I definitely have an income advantage that I didn’t when we first started the blog… Well, you know about our copious medical expenses.)

    I still say stick it out to ensure you have an ample cushion. I’m nearly positive we’re headed for a recession in the near future. So you might as well have a little less worry AND a bit of extra money to buy stocks at deflated prices!

    But I’m a worrier by nature so take my opinions with a grain of salt. No matter what you decide, congrats again on the awesome progress!

    • Thanks! Re the caveat, in truth I would like to put something like that in every single post we write, but I have a feeling people would get sick of it. :-) It’s so important to acknowledge our own individual privilege, and I think most PF bloggers don’t do it nearly enough… Or at all!

      Haha, I feel you on being a worrier. That’s me too. So the thought of a bigger cushion is definitely a good one. It’s just a question of whether we can survive in our jobs long enough to make it to the end of next year! But yeah, it’s super exciting all the same. And thank you!

  33. I need to put out my mid year progress so far this year but as for Q2 we are off track a month or even two as we had some renovations and updates for the FL house. Its rented again and at a higher rent so it’s not all bad newa. While hanging out in the park we realized the end of year goal for paying off the house still can happen, which is nice maybe even sparkle nice.

    As you get closer to finishing a race you realize that you might as well sprint the last 100 yards because you will not be running this same race again. It’s great to see you sprint to the end. Finish $trong!

    • You definitely get sparkles for potentially being able to pay off the house this year! We definitely understand the cash flow setbacks with the rental property. But as you said, at least you can rent it for higher now. And your sprint analogy is a good one. We definitely feel like we keep picking up more steam! :-)

  34. BAM! You’re nailing it! I’m still sticking to the “Quit at the end of 2016” camp! (Earlier trip to Alaska?! :) )

  35. Oh gosh, Brexit would’ve stressed me the heck out if I were near retirement. Since I’m not, I just lamented buying stocks a few weeks earlier. If I’d waited, I’d probably’ve gotten a great deal!

    • Fortunately, all of the US markets bounced right back! So it was a very short roller coaster ride. :-) And sure, you might’ve gotten a great deal, but you might also have fallen into the trap of trying to time the markets. All of the research says that the most important factor is time in the markets, so your best bet is always just to invest as soon as you can, which is exactly what you did. So good job! ;-)

  36. Great progress! I am curious to see what road you will take in 2017 once you have passed all your safety limits…!

    Q2 was a sQ1 ok. Going forward, with the new job, we will save less. Yet, at home, I do feel more relaxed, my wife notices this as well. Priceless!

    • Thanks! And welcome back. :-) We’re curious to see what road we take as well — it’s so dependent on how this year ends up. Fingers crossed it’s all good news. I’m SO GLAD that you’re feeling more relaxed at home, and getting more quality of life, even if you’ve taken a pay cut. I’m sure that alone makes the change feel like a very good thing!

  37. One of our big Q2 goals is working on maxing out our 401ks for the first time ever! I was even laid off for the first few months of the year so I had to up my contributions to 35% to be able to max it out. Good thing being unemployed showed us that we can save a lot more than we thought!

    You guys are doing great! Very inspiring! :)

    • So awesome! And wow — getting used to putting away 35% of your income this year will set you up for HUGE savings next year because if you keep saving at that level, you’ll save way more than your 401k limit. Awesome.

  38. I too am looking forward to retirement soon. Great post! I’ll be reading more of your stuff and learning from your lead. You guys inspire me.