Hiya! (Again) // It’s Reveal Time!

Back on January 30, 2015, 300 posts ago, I launched this blog with an unassuming post titled “hiya,” because I was all about lowercase in those early days. It was light on details, and featured a pic from one of our favorite places. At the time, the only idea I had for the blog was to document our journey to early retirement, which we’d set at a target date of December 31, 2017, several years sooner than our original goal of late 2020. But one thing I promised in that very first post was that we’d drop the “whole anonymous charade” just as soon as we could without jeopardizing our early retirement plans.

And today, I finally get to make good on that promise!

Ms. ONL and Mr. ONL of Our Next Life reveal our anonymous identities!

I’m 100 percent sure that when I started this little project, I was not imagining that we’d have friends around the world as a result of it, or that there’d actually be people excited about learning our identities. I thought it would just make the writing less awkward to be able to avoid euphemisms and pseudonyms. But thanks to YOU reading, and to everyone who’s emailed, commented or messaged us on social, this actually feels like a big moment. And an ever-so-slightly scary moment, because before, you could imagine whatever you wanted behind those emoji masks. Now, though, it’s just us, flaws and all.

But I still can’t wait to share everything, so here’s just a quick rundown on what you should know before we pull off those masks:

What You Guessed

A few weeks ago, we had a contest to guess some of our basic details, and the biggest question was what western U.S. state we live in. The guesses clustered around one state in particular:

Where you guessed Our Next Life is based out of -- Colorado is the clear winner!

Colorado was the clear favorite by a healthy margin!

For occupation, another surprise: despite dropping hints that we are not in tech or IT, a bunch of you still think we are. (Are we dirty tricksters? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just those professions being so over-represented among financial independence bloggers.) And for those who’ve picked up on all the mentions of consulting, the consensus is clear: you believe we are management consultants, most likely working for Big Four firms.

I’ll share more of your guesses — including some goooood comedy — next week when we also reveal the contest winners. 

But were your guesses correct? Keep reading to find out!

Introducing the Humans Behind the Emoji Masks!

Imaginary drumroll please! It’s time to take off those masks.


I’ll go first. Hiya! I’m Tanja, pronounced like “Tonya” but with a higher level of difficulty. (Yep, my name is like a quadruple axel.) And here I am at golden hour in our neighborhood, in a puffy vest, because vests are the best:

Tanja, formerly known as Ms. ONL or Ms. Our Next Life!

And say hello to Mark, my wholesome-looking but not-actually-wholesome partner in crime:

Mark, formerly known as Mr. ONL or Mr. Our Next Life!

From now on those emoji-less photos will look more like this, with us smirking at ourselves, because we think we’re hilarious.

Tanja and Mark, formerly known as the ONLs

Or maybe more like this, like the time we fought the incredibly tiny Godzilla statue in Tokyo. Because we’re hilarious.

Tanja and Mark in Tokyo with Gojira

The emoji masks have suited us well precisely because they’re so goofy. And I threw in the Godzilla pic to say that that goofiness isn’t going anywhere. That’s who we are.

Introducing Our (Ta)Home!

Colorado was by far the most popular state guess, but of the folks who didn’t guess Colorado, a high percentage of you guessed correctly… sort of! The most popular locality guess was Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (I’ll guess that that’s because Nevada has no income tax, so folks who guess Tahoe would assume we’d choose based on taxes.)

We live across the state line, though, in North Lake Tahoe, California. (Stay tuned for a post next week on why we think California is a great state to retire in.)

Don’t think of California when you think mountains? I’ll help you out! Here’s a shot of my favorite mountains on the planet, California’s Sierra Nevada, from the air:

Sierra Nevada range from the air

And here’s that photo again from our very first post, of the California 14er Mt. Russell, with Mt. Whitney (which you may recall from 4th grade geography as the tallest mountain in the lower 48) just off frame to the left. That sexy white granite is a hallmark of the Sierra. (<– Pro tip: “Sierra” is already plural. No need to say “Sierras.”)

Mt Russell in the Eastern Sierra

But let’s talk about this incredible place we get to call home, the northern Sierra region around Lake Tahoe, the second deepest lake in the U.S. and the largest alpine lake in North America.

Actually, no. Let’s just look at it, because it speaks for itself.

Lake Tahoe, photo copyright Our Next Life

Lake Tahoe, photo copyright Our Next Life

Lake Tahoe, photo copyright Our Next Life

And yes, there is room for goofiness even at such a majestic place, like this gem from our DIY reveal photo shoot:

The usual ONL house dynamic

Busted, Mark. Busted.

Here’s a view of the lake on a much bluer day, from up high:

Our Next Life -- Mark on Mt. Tallac, overlooking Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay

The mountains outside of the Tahoe basin are wonderful, too, like this view from Castle Peak at sunrise:

Castle Peak at Sunrise // Our Next Life

The mountains in the Tahoe sierra aren’t super tall like in the Eastern Sierra (that’s where the 14ers live), but they’re plenty big (10,000ish feet) for lots of adventures. And the Eastern Sierra are just a few hours away.

For most of the time we’ve lived here, we’ve called the duo resort of Squaw Valley USA (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics) and Alpine Meadows our ski home. And seriously, you can’t beat this view driving into Squaw:

Squaw Valley, USA // Olympic Valley, CA

And what Alpine lacks in dramatic valley entrance, it makes up for with Tahoe views, secret powder stashes and the best vibe.

Alpine Meadows, CA, with view of Lake Tahoe

Squaw is especially pleasing viewed through (or reflected on) ski goggles.

Mark of Our Next Life at Squaw Valley USA

Our Soon-to-Be-Completed Careers

Ever noticed that lots of photos of DC managed to creep into our posts? There’s a good reason for that!

Lincoln Memorial

We’re now wrapping up careers in political and social cause consulting, me in communications and media, and Mark in public opinion research. Very DC jobs that we’ve loved doing for all these years, and have been fortunate to get to do from afar. We’ll miss so much about them, but we’re thrilled for the next chapter to begin.

(And DC folks — keep reading! We’ve got something especially for you.)

The Dogs

What happens when you love dogs but are mildly allergic to them, and also happen to be a selective cheapskate? You get the tiniest, least fluffy dogs you can find! (Less dander! Less food to buy! Fewer times to board them!)

Meet our tiny hurricanes of spazzy ridiculousness, Pico and Oly.

dogs in blanket


Their names reveal that the big city we most recently lived in was Los Angeles (Pico and Olympic are big artery streets that we always lived fairly close to).

Pico is the friendlier of the two, a likely miniature pinscher or min pin/chihuahua mix, but also the much dumber one. Here’s one of many times he got stuck in that toy.

Pico is dumb

And Oly has appointed himself my protector. Don’t let that tiny 3 pound body fool you — he’s one heck of a guard dog.

Oly with doormat

And while we’re on the subject of dogs, here’s the time I met Desiree’s dog Jacob (you know her from Half Banked), sans emoji:

Jacob and Tanja

More About Us

We’ll share lots more about us in the months to come, but here are a few extra fun facts, courtesy of Twitter friends who asked good questions.

How has it been telling real life friends and family about our plans? 

We’ve told our closest friends our plans for years, so there hasn’t been any big reveal with them. But many have said some version this year of “Oh, you’re really doing that, huh?” We choose not to take that in a bad way, because we know it’s a surprise when people achieve huge life goals, even if they’ve been talking about them for years. As for the more extended friend circles? We’ll keep you posted! We haven’t done a Facebook blast or anything else, so we expect the news to leak out slowly.

What will we do differently with the blog now? 

There are a gajillion posts I’ve wanted to write but haven’t been able to because they were so specific, like why we think the usual advice to avoid so-called high tax states like ours misses the point for early retirees in particular, and how teaching yoga — my side hustle for many years — is a scam that has many similarities to multilevel marketing. (Stay tuned for both posts!) As for what else will change? Not much! Or at least not much now that we’re open about who we are. But things could definitely change next year when we’re retired and have more time. We can’t wait to find out!

What would we have done differently with the anonymity? Are we glad to reveal our identities? 

For the most part, I think I got the anonymous thing figured out, and recently learned a few more tips that would have made me even better at it. (I’ll blog about this soon, too.) And YES, so glad to finally blog as myself, and as us! The double life was stressful!

Any near misses on anonymity?

Thank goodness no!

What was the inflection point that accelerated our careers? 

No good answer on this one! By staying with the same companies for a loooong time — 19+ years for Mark, 15+ for me — we’ve moved up incrementally over time, and haven’t made any big moves or jumps that, alone, made a huge difference. But because we can look back and see tremendous growth within the same companies, we’re huge believers that compound interest works in earnings as well as in savings. If you can keep getting steady raises, the difference it makes over time is huge. And of course it goes without saying that we’ve always worked hard, invested ourselves in our companies and their growth, and been willing to go above and beyond. We made ourselves as promotable as possible!

Did we have any setbacks along the way? 

We’ve benefited from truly bonkers market growth during our accumulation years, and have been ahead of schedule on saving these last few. So we feel like the setback is yet to come, when the current market correction comes. But no, we can’t believe how lucky we are not just to have gotten to do this, but for it to have been mostly a waiting game, and not a case of overcoming any great obstacles. Of course, the biggest obstacle to saving a lot is often just not believing it’s possible. And given the high spending lives we were living before we got on this path (#balleryears), I’d say the biggest hurdle we overcame was making the mindset shift at the outset that we could either spend our money in the present moment for fleeting joy, or we could bank it for the future and buy back decades of our lives. We’re so glad we got to a place where we could be stoked to do the latter.

New Projects!

A fun fact about me that I’ve never shared here before is that I’ve always dreamed of doing radio professionally. I ran my high school radio station, DJed late night jazz programming at the local public radio station in my home town in high school, did college radio, interned at NPR and KQED, and then tried like crazy to get a job at NPR after college. That was before the Joan Kroc money, though, and they had job openings approximately never. So my dream didn’t come true then.

But now, it’s different. Podcasts are now a thing, and I don’t actually need to make a living at podcasting to make it worthwhile. And that’s why I’m so stoked to finally share that I’m starting a podcast!

The Fairer Cents

The first podcast you’ll be able to listen to if you’re interested is a big departure from this blog. My friend Kara Perez, whom you may know from Bravely (@bravelygo), and I wanted to do a podcast talking about women and money that’s a bit different than what’s already out there, focusing less on financial advice, and more on the deeper discussions we need to have collectively if we want to change the landscape.

The Fairer Cents podcast -- Rad women. Real money stories. Featuring Tanja from Our Next Life and Kara from Bravely.

Not gonna lie… I’m slightly obsessed with our cover art. Shout out to Nick Mendez for the photos that delivered perfectly on our vision, and for keeping us entertained! Hit him up if you’re in Portland and need photography.

The Fairer Cents launches November 8 on iTunes, Stitcher and all the podcast places, and I’ll update the link here as soon as you can subscribe! In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter at @fairercents and read more about the show at

The Fairer Cents podcast -- Rad women. Real money stories. Featuring Tanja from Our Next Life and Kara from Bravely.


Something we’re stoked to start doing now that our identities aren’t a secret is host meetups on our travels (and locally in Tahoe, of course). I’ve added a sidebar category to keep the schedule front and center, and we’re currently working on three (DC, Denver, NYC), with many more to come once we lock down our retirement travel schedules.

Want More?

Didn’t get enough with the reveal here? You’re in luck! You can find us in lots of other places today! Find us on:

Plus one of my favorite posts ever is up on Bravely today.

Because what kind of communications strategist would I be if I couldn’t pull off a mini PR blitz on our reveal day?! Big thanks to Angela Moore and Elizabeth O’Brien for so generously playing along!

Over to You!

Lay it all on us! Any surprises? Anything you called correctly and wanna take credit? Any Qs we can answer for you? Anything else? The floor is yours! Let’s chat in the comments! And as always, thank you for reading and for your support. It means so much to us!

This is our only post this week. Back at ya next week (with info on the contest winners!) after FinCon! 

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211 replies »

  1. I have a lot of respect for this decision and find it very brave. Well done you two! Curious to read more about you in the coming weeks/months. I sincerely hope that you guys will enjoy your “new” life together and make it worth all the effort it has taken to get here. You have an extremely pretty backyard, and are lucky as heck to be able to spend more time there. Best of luck!

    • Thanks so much! What a nice compliment. :-) And you can say that again — we know how lucky we are to get to live in this wonderland!

    • Thanks, my friend! And soooo many more Tahoe from the sky pics coming! (Oh, doggies too, of course.) ;-)

    • Oh then you’ll definitely want to read my take on it! But big picture: find another side hustle if your goal is to actually make money. ;-)

  2. So much beautiful scenery!!! Those are amazing views, and looks like the best place you could pick to retire! I love how goofy y’all are and how real you seem to be. It’s definitely what drew me to your blog. :) Okay, so do I have a question…. Hmm… I actually wondered if y’all planned on having any kids or were sticking to the no kids lifestyle? I love to hear some of that info from early retirees.

    Have an awesome time at FinCon! Can’t wait to check out your podcasts!

    • I don’t want to diss other places, but we sure think it’s the perfect place for us. ;-) Re: kids, nope. We’ve definitely built a child-free life that we plan to stick with. :-)

    • Thanks! And tbh, I’m going to miss them, too! It’s been a fun and goofy little thing. But I’m committed to keeping the fun and goofy alive here. ;-)

  3. Big BIG congrats to both of you! And I love the fun of this post along with the reveal. Keep up the entertaining and informative posts and best to you on the new endeavors ahead!

  4. So excited to read about the yoga teaching scam.

    I know that’s missing the point on this epic post, but for those who subscribed to the newsletter (hint, hint to readers out there) quite a bit of this was revealed earlier.

      • Hi! So excited to hear about the yoga, because I’ve been considering it for years but felt it wasn’t worth the time/initial costs etc. to do as a side hustle. PLEASE bring this post soon, would love your thoughts and expertise on this!

  5. So much excitement in one post! Love the photos and all the Revelations, and I’ll definitely be checking out the podcasts! It’s very impressive how we’ll you’ve managed to connect with readers even while anonymous, but I’m glad the masks are finally off!

    • Thank you! We’ve tried to be as real as possibly could while hiding behind masks, so it means a lot to know that came through! ;-)

  6. Congratulations on successfully being anonymous and the reveal in your own terms, don’t you love it when a plan comes together? See you at Fincon! :)

    • Thanks, Jim! Appreciate that. See you in a few days! Think of smart stuff to say in our panel. ;-)

  7. Congratulations! So exciting to finally see your faces, and can’t wait to hear more about your journey and insight. This is my first time to comment here, I am not a blogger (well, a blogger wannabe, actually) but I have followed your blog for the last several months. Stumbled on it accidentally and keep coming back because I really enjoy your writing! I am very curious to hear about how you chose California and looking forward to a post on how to keep your blog anonymous.

    • Thank you! And I’m so touched that this is your first comment. :-) Stay tuned for both of those posts — why CA and how to stay anonymous!

  8. So cool to see all the amazing pictures of Lake Tahoe. I had no idea there was a California side (East Coast ignorance showing). The podcasts both sound awesome, and I’m looking forward to listening to them. I love your nose ring, too!

    • I fully understand that lots of people don’t even know we have mountains in California. (Let along that we have the tallest one in the lower 48 — take that, Colorado!) ;-) So no shame! And so excited to launch the podcast — stoked you want to listen! (And the hoop in my nose is new, since just before I gave notice. The stud visible in some pics is what I had for 20 years!)

      • High five for a new nose ring! I switched my stud out in February after 5 years and after a really long adjustment period (“how can a ring make my nose look so weird??”), I’m really liking the ring.

      • It took me some adjustment time, too, which was unexpected! But now I love it and it’s my visual signal that I’m really moving onto the next chapter! ;-)

  9. Congrats on the reveal and the new projects! I really really appreciate you answering the question regarding income, there is a lot of earnings power with experience in one company/industry and I hope you can write about that in the future (My salary increased 5x by staying with the same company in an industry that jumps)

    • Thank you! And we can only speak to our own experience, of course, but staying loyal has served us well. Though, who knows? Maybe we’d have done better job hopping. But we regret nothing. ;-)

    • Thank you! I know… bye bye, emojis! We’ll miss you! ;-) We have lots of half-formed travel in the works, but only a few definitive things planned. Stay tuned!

  10. Congrats, and I may be the only one that won’t miss the emoji faces, lol. My pseudo anonymous self never tried to stay “full dark” the whole time, but I can imagine it’s pretty tough to do. Way to go keeping it up for so long.

    The podcasts sound pretty interesting, I’m looking forward to those rolling out as well. :)

    See you at FinCon in a few days!

    • Thanks, pal! Some of the tactical anonymous stuff just became second nature, but I’m sooooo glad not to have to keep things straight anymore. ;-) See you Wednesday!

  11. Yes! I so called it haha. Actually, I think I said Truckee in the survey to play it safe. Congratulations on the big reveal, the new podcast, and cheers to your next life!!

  12. I look forward to getting to know your true weirdness now that you no longer have to worry that any casual word might reveal the real you.

  13. Welcome to the world of non-anonymity! :) Your life looks awesome! I’ve been to North Lake Tahoe and ho-ly smokes the photos just don’t do this area justice. Absolutely gorgeous. And I love your little doggos! :) Can’t wait to see all the great things from y’all!

    • You are soooo right. We’ll share lots more Tahoe pics over time, but yeah… it’s an incredible spot on the planet! :-D

  14. Yay I’m so happy to see your friendly faces behind the emojis! I have been waiting for your reveal post for a while now and had to make sure to check your blog today.

    I’m also super stoked about your new podcasts. Thanks for answering my question!

    • That means a lot that you were thinking about our reveal date! ;-) And so glad you’re looking forward to the podcasts! Can’t wait to share them both. :-D

    • Thank you, Amanda! Kara and I are super excited about what we’re creating, too. So stoked to put it out there!

  15. Woohoo, congrats on the big reveal! It is exciting to finally find out the mountain ranges over the instagram pic ridges and the faces behind the emoji masks!

    I’m looking forward to the new podcasts and posts! Haha- yoga teaching like MLM… I can’t wait to read that one!

    • Thank you! And yeah… no more taking pics with our backs to the lake, or not showing the mountain skyline because it’s a giveaway! Now we can show the best stuff. And the yoga-MLM post is completely serious. It’s a total racket. More soon! ;-)

  16. Congratulations, Tonya, on coming out. You, your husband, your home town, and Pico and Oly, of course, look awesome. I have an ongoing debate with myself over which state is the most beautiful. Montana is amazing, but so is California. Right now I’m giving the slight edge to California because of the coastline. Looking forward to your podcast. I’m sure it’ll be a blast. Cheers.

    • California is the most geographically diverse state in the country, so no contest in my book. ;-)

  17. So great to see your smiling faces, Tanja and Mark! I’m super exciting to hear about your post-Fi adventures and to listen to the podcasts. *Almost* makes me sad that my commute’s about to get shorter… LOL!

    Just curious – whereabouts in Wisconsin did you originally hail from? Wisconsin is where the hubs and I currently have our sites set for post-FI. :)

    Cheers to you both!

    • Hahaha — There is NO downside to a shorter commute. ;-) And I mostly grew up in Green Bay! Where are you aiming for?

      • Currently all our FI fantasies center around Mineral Point. :) Ever been? I’m a huge old house fanatic and that town is just amazing, but remote enough to still be pretty darn inexpensive, with tons of natural beauty surrounding it to keep us healthy and entertained (and let my husband get some canoeing in!) and close enough to Illinois that we’d be a few easy hours away from our friends and family here. Who knows if something will come along to turn our heads in another direction within the next 5 years, but right now it’s the top contender. :)

      • I’ve actually spent very little time in that corner of the state, so no! But it looks super cool from what Google tells me. I couldn’t do the midwest mosquitoes or humidity, but if you can handle that stuff, then you’ll save sooooo much money compared to the premium we pay to live here! ;-) (Plus, the oldest houses in CA are less than 100 years old, so that’s no contest. Ha!)

      • Fun fact is that my genetic issue (EDS) actually makes mosquito bites way more serious for me… so when I said I couldn’t handle the mosquitoes, I meant that in an actual, medical sense! ;-) But I’m jealous of those who can! There are still lots of places in the midwest that I love, and I can’t wait to take Mark to the Boundary Waters. But I might have to create a suit or armor or something before we go. ;-)

      • Oh, I see! Yeah, definitely don’t want to mess with that! It’s great that there are actually places you can live with no mosquitoes (my Midwestern brain can hardly imagine that such a place exists for real! LOL!) My husband LOVES the boundary waters, too. That might be worth the body armor. :)

      • I don’t know if you can ever escape mosquitoes entirely, but we have SO MANY fewer here, the season is much much shorter, and they are just way less vicious. #themeanestmidwesterners ;-)

  18. Congrats, and awesome :)

    So excited to see your thoughts on why you think CA is a great place for retirement – I lived there for a few years and between taxes and COL in the LA area at least, I just don’t see how I could have made it work. But as it turns out you’ve got a lot more experience in that, so I’m eager to hear what you’ve got to say!

    The podcasts BOTH seem awesome. Very excited for those.

    • Thank you, Dave! The crazy thing is almost everything costs more here than it did in LA, so I’m not calling it AFFORDABLE. Just saying folks shouldn’t write off CA just based on income tax, which is the usual argument cited. Stay tuned!

  19. Nice to see the un-emoji faces and meet the pups. I’m looking forward to all there is to come.

    • Thanks so much! :-D Definitely feeling the embarrassment of riches! There’s so much to be excited about right now, it’s almost overwhelming. But it’s the best possible problem to have. ;-)

  20. Woah, official reveal day AND a website change (unless I didn’t notice the change before haha)? It’s definitely an awesome Monday! Also brb, moving from DC to Lake Tahoe right now-those pictures are amazing.

    I’ve been looking forward to The Fairer Cents since I found the Twitter account, and an ONL podcast is exciting as well!

    • Flipped the switch on the site over the weekend! ;-) (Thanks for noticing!) So glad you’re excited for the podcasts — we’re excited to share them!!

  21. Congratulations Tanja and Mark!! You know, I didn’t fill out the survey (I would’ve been right there with all those Colorado guessers), but I wondered if you were in the political/cause/consulting space somewhere. (I’m with those who figured you did some type of consulting.). In some of our exchanges, I could tell you’re very passionate about politics, which made me wonder…

    Congratulations on no longer living a double life. And on that note, I’m looking forward to the blog post re anonymity.

    Hope to see you at Fin Con, where I’ll be the one wearing emojis still :/

    • Thank you! And as you saw, CO was BY FAR the most popular guess, so you’re not alone. ;-) Stay tuned for the anonymous blogging post — I have a LOT to share. And come say hi at FinCon since you know what I look like now! ;-)

  22. Congratulations (again)!

    I’ve decided to be pretty transparent on my blog as my focus right now is on financial independence and not necessarily early retirement. Plus, it’s a good 15 years out regardless. If I was looking to retire in the next few years, I can definitely see why anonymity makes sense. I might be out in the open on my blog, but I still haven’t shared much with people in real life, because for the most part, even talking about early retirement/ financial independence is this strange, nebulous thing that doesn’t make sense to a lot of poeple. Hence why I’ve gone online to join the weirdo community that DOES want to talk about it! :)

    • Thank you! I think having a longer timeline makes the anonymity so much less necessary, and it’s less stressful for you! ;-) Win-win. And come on down anytime you wanna chat with us FI weirdos! That’s what we’re here for. ;-)

  23. Awesome to know who you guys really are and excited to hear about a new podcast to add to my list! :-)

    Hope I get a chance to meet you guys this week at FinCon

    — Jim

  24. Congratulations you guys! :-D It’s been so fun following your adventures and we wish you the best in “(Y)Our Next Life!” We look forward to having some fun reveal posts in the future when we feel more comfortable with it. Nice to meet you again!

    • Thank you for all of that! :-D And I LOVE that you are already plotting your big reveal. Let me know if you want tips! ;-)

  25. Great reveal, Tanja and Mark! Loved all the pictures. Can’t wait to see more, read all the new posts you’ll be writing, and listen to the podcasts. Hope to meet you in Dallas!

  26. Congrats on the reveal! I was anonymous for awhile when I first started my blog and eventually it became too much work. It was funny telling my friends and family about the blog, haha!

    • Thanks, Michelle! And I think we’re repeating some of your experience, because lots of friends and family knew our plan, but almost none knew about the blog. So now we have a bit of a reveal to them, too! ;-)

  27. If you ever want to check out some radio training/workshops, may I suggest either the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke or the Transom workshops on Cape Code? Both highly recommended. Also, nice to meet you two!

    • Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve had the benefit of some pretty incredible training at a few points, so I can definitely attest to the value of such programs! :-)

  28. I’m so impressed you kept up the anonymity for so long without going crazy. There’s no way I would be able to refrain from showing the place where I live!

    I’m also really excited about your new podcasts! I used to bum around the radio stations in college, too. My friends would host shows and I’d go selfishly make them play songs I wanted to hear :)

    • Define crazy. ;-) This all would have been SOOOO much easier if we’d been able to share where we live, but given how small a world our work field is, that would be a dead giveaway. And I love that you’re a radio groupie, too! :-D

  29. Tanja and Mark,
    Congratulations for the big reveal and staying anonymous for all this time. Lot’s of excitement ahead, starting this week in Dallas! Being anonymous was easier than I expected for 4 years. Feels much better to be out there, though we haven’t done our photo shoot yet :)

    • Thanks, Craig! You definitely helped us see that the reveal didn’t need to be big and scary… although we went and made it big anyway. ;-) And we’re definitely getting all the photos this year, preferably ones where we don’t look like terrorists and horror movie villains! ;-) Hahaha

    • Thanks so much, Matt! Glad to have known you for most of the blogging portion of the journey, and hope our paths cross again soon!

  30. You guys rock …. now I don’t have to worry about any location close calls on twitter and can go on and on about mountains :) Pretty interested in what Mark has up his sleeve with the adventure podcast. Anyhow you have a crazy week ahead of you in the wake of the reveal. Have a blast and keep smiling :)

  31. Awesome! Love the pictures, and I think your career makes sense – everything on your blog is so professional!

    Really looking forward to where you take the blog next. I am super excited now!

    • Thanks so much, Dylan! And what a nice compliment about the blog. :-) We’re so excited about all we’re cooking up, too — stay tuned!

  32. Well, that’s a lot of sensory overload. How many pics was that? Somebody must be feeling the need to release some pent up energy. LOL. Congrats on the reveal! Must be quite a relief that it’s now done. Looking forward to your adventures in early retirement.

    • And you should have seen how many I CUT! ;-) (For real, though.) Thanks for the congrats! You’re totally right that there was a lot of pent-up energy behind this one, and we’re looking forward to feeling the big exhale at some point soon.

      • My advice. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat until heart rate drops below 4000 beats/minute. Or should we be counting it as RPM? LOL. Ok, you can wait till next week for that to happen. 😜 You have every right to enjoy your glorious moment to the max.

      • Definitely breathing, but might take a while for that HR to go back down. ;-) Enjoying riding the wave 100%!

  33. Wicked awesome!! Loved the podcast this morning with the ChooseFi crew. Look forward to listening to your very own podcast(s).

    The winter scenes struck a chord with me. Skied in NH, ME, VT, CO, UT, MT, WY (our fave), Canada, Scotland and Italy. But never California. Need to get onto rectifying that soon!!

    • Thank you, Mr. PIE! And did you like how I can apparently talk like the super speedy Micro Machines man??? Hahahah. (Me to self: “Slow down there, buckaroo!”) ;-)

      And yes! Please do yourself a favor and add CA skiing to your list! (And Japan, for that matter. Best days of our lives in Hokkaido earlier this year!)

  34. Thanks for including all of us in this exciting milestone in your lives. Congrats!!! And I can’t wait to see what the two of you do next :)

    If I can make my desired career change happen, I may start revealing quite a bit more about myself. Maybe we can set up a meetup someday. I’ve been told that there is some pretty good skiing nearby ;)

    • Oh gosh, you’re so welcome! Thanks for caring! ;-) Knowing that you might be able to share more about yourself, I’m totally going to root extra hard for you to make that change! And let’s make that meetup happen for sure. ;-)

  35. Congrats on the big reveal, Tanja and Mark. I actually had a suspicion about the location. The pictures always looked more like the Sierra and not so much the Rockies. Career-wise I would have thought pharmaceutical sales (interest in health issues and lots of business travel), but of course the political consulting makes perfect sense now. I enjoyed your ChooseFI podcast today and I look forward to following all your future adventures! Cheers!

    • Thank you, Big ERN! And yeah, there was only so much I could do to obscure our location. ;-) (Bonus points for calling it the “Sierra”!) And I’m so glad that we have NOT been doing pharmaceutical sales! Hahaha. Though we probably would have gotten paid more if we did and might have been able to shave even more time off. ;-)

  36. Congrats for the reveal and achieving FIRE. Great inspiration. Will be looking forward to post on anonymous blogging and Yoga MLM. And all the best for your podcasts and retirement fun :-)

    • Thank you! And yeah, stay tuned for those posts! We have a big backlog of stuff we finally get to say now that we’re out. ;-)

  37. This is so exciting!! Congrats on the reveal, the end date, and the start of your next life! I guessed Tahoe (didn’t say CA or NV) but not sure I recorded that anywhere haha! Now we get to see more mountain photos! Love reading your blog.

    • Thanks, Shannon! And nice job on the guess — you’re in the running on the contest, so check back next week! (And thanks for that nice compliment!) :-D

  38. I sorda kinda knew who you were and this was still fun! Won’t be at Fincon this year but hope to run into you guys sometime soon.

    • Glad it was still fun! And I hope our paths cross again soon! Too bad we can’t recreate our creepy clown pic from FinCon last year. ;-)

  39. Congrats! I had a feeling you lived near Lake Tahoe, but would never have guessed it to be on the California side. My wife and I live in CA now (5 years until FIRE!), but I do not expect to retire here. Our plan is to establish residency in a state with no income tax which according to my math will save us ~7-10% in tax avoidance. I am very interested to hear your analysis on why you chose to stay.

    • Thank you! And please chime in on the CA post next week! I wouldn’t argue that anyone should actively pick up and move here, but just that if you love it, there are some good reasons to stay that can outweigh the income tax issue (especially for technically low income early retirees). More next week!

  40. Woo! Lovely to meet the real you! Tahoe looks absolutely amazing.

    I’ll be at FinCon in a couple days and I am also definitely in for a DC meetup!

    • Excited to meet you in person, and then perhaps have more time in DC! (Just because FinCon can be a bit of a whirlwind. But so glad you’re doing!) And it’s 100% true — Tahoe is magical. :-)

  41. Just listened to your episode on Choose FI. Congrats on the reveal! Loved hearing your plan about your back up plan and your “back up to the back up plan” where you actually have a plan if all the financial plans fail in the next 20-25 years.

    • Thank you! And glad you enjoyed the podcast! I know not everyone needs as many contingencies as I do, but knowing that even if we screw up our early retirement, we won’t screw up our *retirement* retirement is what lets me sleep at night. ;-)

  42. Sweet! Love Tahoe and pretty much any mountain town we run across! Must admit that some of the allure of your blog was around this mysterious reveal, but it looks like the projects will come at a furious rate. For me, I’m more interested in the adventures one. Enjoy the last couple months of the year and kick ass on those last work projects.

    • I’ll share more about why we chose this particular area sometime soon, but we definitely got the best vibes here of any ski town we visited. A lot of places don’t want new folks moving in, but we never got that feeling here. And as for projects vs. adventures, we sure hope to have some time for both! ;-)

  43. Right on! Congratulations on making it to this point and cheers to having lots of wind in your sails to make it through to the end. And WTH? I’ve been saying Sierras for 10 years and no one corrected me???? I get why you don’t put an S on the end, just never really thought it through. Cheers to the Sierra! I’m partial to the Eastern. ;) I admire y’all’s hard-work-i-tude and all these projects…. I’m still happily flailing away with no goals or projects. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it sure feels great to keep things simple.

    • Thank you! And no one corrected you because it’s the secret code for local vs. visitor, and people wanted to be able to tell which you are. ;-) We love the Eastern Sierra, too, in terms of the mountains themselves, but the communities there didn’t quite feel like our forever home — not to mention that work travel would never work from so far from an airport! And cheers to keeping things simple all the way. I know it sounds like we have a lot on our plates, but we’re subtracting these HUGE things, so it still feels like we’re about to slow down a TON. (After all, I’ve been doing this blog and getting the podcast going, and volunteering, all while working and traveling for work!)

      • jeez louise. I thought I blended in fairly well. I may as well have worn a fluorescent vest adorned with “lives in San Diego and only rides 20 days a year”. 30 day yoga challenge is on my plate this month…. it’s as big a goal as I’m going to take on these days.

      • Hahahahahaha — it’s not that bad. ;-) And a 30 day yoga challenge is a great thing to take on! A solid accomplishment, but as you said, not TOO big a thing.

  44. Question!?!? After reading your Marketwatch piece. So you mention setting aside 15-16 times your expenses for phase I, what is this comprised of percentage wise? Also is phase I considered the 2018-2028 and phase II the 2029-2035? If thats the case, is it my understanding that you have 15-16x saved up for a 10 year period?

    • Phase 1 is pre-59 1/2, so the next 19 years. We have 15 and change saved up for 19 years (but we’ll also have rental income coming in from 2029 onward, so we really don’t need to gain much to make it all work!).

  45. What an awesome post! It must be so nice to be able to move to this new chapter of retirement and blogging. And what cool projects! I am particularly excited about Fairer Cents projects – if I can help at all count me in! I work in retirement services trying to empower women is a particular passion of mine, as I align a lot of my extra time at work in ERGs and other initiatives to assist.

    This journey is so fun to follow and it is even cooler with your identity out there, will be easier to ‘get to know’ your personality even more.

    • Thank you! And I’m so stoked that The Fairer Cents sounds good to you — yay! Kara and I are so fired up about it. ;-) We’ll definitely let you know when we get to retirement stuff — that will be a bit farther down the road. Thanks so much for following along with our goofy little journey. ;-)

  46. Wow what a reveal.. Not just in here but other popular websites too! So happy for you guys on your next chapter… Post revealing! This is going to be a lot of fun. So glad that I was able to meet up with you before the big reveal. 😀

  47. This has been the FI equivalent of the rock band Kiss taking off their makeup in the early 80’s and revealing their faces to the public for the first time.

    Congrats to you both. Looking forward to the upcoming podcasts.

    • Hahaha. I can see why they wanted out of the disguises… I just had to slap a digital emoji up and they had to deal with all that greasepaint night after night! ;-) Thanks for the congrats!!

  48. Listening to your Choose FI podcast while packing for FinCon. So you’re a yoga instructor who prefers working with the “challenged” students, huh? Looks like I may finally be able to do my ever awful headstand by the end of the week! Ha!

    Looking forward to finally meeting you both in person. Congrats on all the well deserved publicity around the reveal.

    • So stoked to meet you tomorrow! :-D I mean, I worked with ALL the yoga students, but yeah, another perfect body in LA doing some jaw-dropping pose? Yawn. ;-) We’ll get the whole FI crew to bust out headstands tomorrow night, how bout!

  49. On behalf of the DC Money Nerds, we look forward to meeting you here! Let us know when you will be in town – you can tag us @DCMoneyNerds to get our attention! We’ve got a great group out here and I’m sure everybody would love to meet you.

    I’m looking forward to the podcasts too, although it means I’m going to have to cut even more podcasts from my subscription list. I’ve become overwhelmed by all the great PF podcasts lately! Reason #473 to retire: more time to listen to podcasts!

    • Excited to meet you guys! And thanks for the heads-up on the tag. And no pressure on the podcasts. Just add ’em if they appeal to you, and if not, no worries! I’ll keep blogging here, so we’ll be PF buddies no matter what! ;-)

  50. Congrats! Best reveal ever. :)
    My college roommate lives in that area too. I’ll have to visit someday. Probably in the summer, though. Mrs. RB40 is not into snow at all.

    • Thanks, Joe! :-) Definitely let me know when you guys come down and we’ll meet up! Summer is awesome — just don’t come July 4th or around Burning Man. ;-)

  51. Very pleased to meet you Tanja.

    I am very excited about Fairer Cents. This sounds awesome. There are very few women in my profession so I rarely have the opportunity to discuss finances (or anything really) with women.

    I’m more of a cat person but those pups are adorable!

  52. Congratulations, have fun. I guessed Tahoe but wasn’t sure since you mentioned running out of food from the tourists so thought something smaller. I can’t wait to hear more from you, definitely my favorite blog, I also loved the podcasts I heard you on (how I got to the blog). Don’t work too hard in retirement though. I can’t wait to live vicariously through your awesome pictures

    • It’s not THAT small here, but on those big holiday weekends, the stores get downright Soviet! ;-) We don’t even bother trying to go… if it’s later than Thursday morning and we need some food? Too bad! Wait until Monday or Tuesday and make do in the meantime. ;-) Thanks so much for the nice compliment! So stoked that what I’m putting out there resonates with you. :-)

  53. Congratulations. I’m a new follower here and love that you live in Tahoe. I’m an avid skier and have visited a number of places out there already. I dream that the second phase of my life is in a mountain town also. Can’t wait to hear more about what made you choose where you did.

    • Thank you! When it’s time to pick your mountain town, make sure you spend a bit of time there first and get a real sense of the locals, not just the resorts. We did that in a few places and got the best vibes in Tahoe, and we’re so glad we chose this place. :-)

  54. Guessed Tahoe from the start, but thought the big city was SF not LA. Also figured you did consulting, but never would’ve guessed the actual fields.

    So cool to share this journey with you guys over the last couple years. Congrats on the big reveal, Tanja and Mark! I still remember the all lowercase days!

  55. Was waiting for this reveal as well for a long time. Congrats! You both deserve the early retirement you worked so hard for! You have been an inspiration to me and I always learn something new from you. I too listened to the Choose F.I. podcast and I actually learned something that I was thinking about anyway. Partitioned $ until my husband reaches 59 1/2 and $ after. Yet again, you gave me a very important nugget that I need to explore. I am not on Facebook, or Twitter so I had no idea about the new podcast you were formulating (although you may have mentioned something like that on the Mad Fientist podcast). Looking forward to your sage wisdom. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! and thank-you!

    • Thank you so much for sharing in our anticipating! :-D I’m glad our two-phase idea was helpful to get you thinking. It’s not something everyone needs to do, but it for sure feels right to us. And I’ll keep sharing all the updates on the podcast here — no need to be on Twitter. ;-)

  56. OMG So funny. I just got into yoga after retiring. My man still works and I go with him on his travel. Last month we were in Tahoe for a conference and I was looking for a yoga class that I could attend. I didn’t end up going but…I did eat some good organic food at Sprouts. Congratulations you two.

    • The Sprouts opened on my birthday and it was a BIG DEAL. ;-) Soooo happy to have a cheaper option than Whole Foods. And glad you got to come see Tahoe — I hope you got here ahead of the blustery weather!

  57. Congratulations, Tanja and Mark! Looking forward to posts from your single-life…. That’s the opposite of a double-life, right?

  58. Sounds like you are having a wonderful adventure …. I like the Godzilla photo … where on Godzilla street in Tokyo this summer and went to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea also… love the mountain shots …. I can see the mnts from my home too … but from the far side of the planet – CPO
    CPO, From the Far Side of the Planet

  59. I saw a bumper sticker today with a drawing of mountains and a caption that said, “More Hiking. Less Work.” I couldn’t help but think of you! For the record, I was completely wrong about where you lived…I also was thinking Colorado. Love that it’s actually California. Congrats!!!

    • Awww, I love that! Thanks for thinking of us. :-) And you were sooooo not alone in guessing CO. ;-)

  60. We basically have done what you have embarked on. Spend our time camping and hiking the back country of America. Well done!

      • Hard to pick a favorite place. Top 10 is perhaps the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Started at the Bill Hill trail at the west end and hiked the rainbow rim trail all the way East back to the edge of the national forest boundary.

  61. I’d love to read a post on yoga teaching as a MLM scam! I’ve often thought about doing a yoga teacher training but had sneaking suspicions that was the case. I love your blog and looking forward to more posts!

  62. I’m late to comment but have been following avidly (both the email and blog reveal) and just have to say how thrilled I am by all of this!! You two are SO adorable, I *love* finally knowing your backgrounds and where you live now (note to self: must plan Tahoe trip…we’ve never been!), and I think I’m most excited about your podcasts! Especially the Fairer Cents. Those issues are near and dear to my heart! (Side note: patting myself on the back for my fortune telling abilities bc after your interview on the Mad Fientist, I totally said you should do a podcast bc awesome women were underrepresented in the PF podcast space!). And I just can’t wait to hear and see more about your lives going forward. Congrats on this huge milestone, and looking forward to everything that’s “next.”

    • You’re not late at all! ;-) Thanks so much for following along with our little mystery caper, and for sharing our excitement — that means a lot. And I’m stoked that you’ll listen to the Fairer Cents! Couldn’t agree more on women in PF in podcasts, and though this one won’t be about FI stuff at all, it *will* be about a lot of things that all women can relate to.

  63. Yah freedom from anonymity! Loving the Fairer Cents and can’t wait to see what else you create and share from here on out!

  64. Hello! I love your blog and thank you for all the great content. Quick question: you mentioned a retreat in Portland in August on your visit to Choose FI podcast. Can you provide information on how to attend this event. Thank you! – Jeff