What It Really Takes to Retire Early // Our Next Life // early retirement, financial independence, FIREwe retired early

What Does It REALLY Take to Retire Early?

The last several months of our careers were more procedural drama than victorious epic, with a long string of to do items and trips keeping us focused on checking things off the list rather than really absorbing what was happening.

Fly to DC, give notice, tell colleagues and clients, reveal ourselves on the blog, go to FinCon, wrap up work projects, go on more work travel, plan first post-retirement trip, more work travels, go back to DC for farewells, travel for Christmas, take first international trip

And though we’ve had plenty of days so far when we’ve really felt this whole early retirement thing in our bones, to us it has felt, more than anything, deeply normal.

We’ve been planning this life in a serious way for six years, after all, and I’ve written well more than 300 blog posts about it, and have chatted with you all to the tune of more than 25,000 comments and responses. And that’s not counting the emails (which I’m still embarrassingly slow on — working on this, friends!), the Twitter chats and the real life meetups with so many of you, all of which have brainwashed us into believing that early retirement is something that lots of people do — because we talk with a lot of people about it!

But of course it’s not. It only feels that way when we surround ourselves with people who are as bought into the idea as we are. That’s the power of the echo chamber.

It’s only been in the last month or so, now that we’re spending more time at home than at any point since we moved to Tahoe six years ago, as we’ve been talking to more people in real life and telling them our story that we’ve actually started to see:

This is a Big Freaking Deal. We did something kind of amazing. 

Not that we are especially amazing. Nor that we overcame any particular obstacles. On the contrary, we had plenty of boosts in life that put us in a position to do this. And not that early retirement is all that hard to accomplish if you have the means to do so. But just that, in the scheme of things, almost no one does this. (Yet.)

I wonder how many people who do big things really feel the bigness of them in the moment when they achieve their goal, or if it takes them until later to appreciate it. Because when you set out to achieve a big goal, you plan for it, you work toward it for years and then you eventually get there, it doesn’t feel momentous. It just feels inevitable.

But it’s not inevitable at all. It takes much more than the passage of time to achieve the big things.

Reaching a multi-year goal that defies societal expectations takes sustained determination and focus. In the case of early retirement, it’s for sure helped by more income and lower expenses, though those aren’t required. But it takes more than all that.

What does it really take to achieve early retirement? Let’s dig into it.

What It Really Takes to Retire Early // Our Next Life // early retirement, financial independence, FIRE

Psst! For folks who are local to Tahoe or Reno, or who are frequent visitors, I’ve started a Facebook group to organize meetups. Join in if you’re in the area! 

This isn’t about how much money you earn or what kind of savings rate you can achieve. Those are a given. That’s like saying that to win a boxing match, you have to know how to land a punch. To even get into the ring for early retirement, you need to understand that living as far below your means as you can will accelerate your journey, and that your wealth will grow fastest in low-fee investments. But if you want to do more than get into the ring, and actually win the match, there’s extra stuff you need to have within you.

(I swear that’s the end of the boxing metaphor. And I almost said something about needing the right stuff, but I’m not going to mix a space program movie into my boxing analogy, because I like you and you deserve better.)

Beyond all those financial knowledge givens, here’s what it really takes to retire early:

Conviction That You’re Right

While some of the underlying acts that precede early retirement — basic saving, debt payoff, frugality — can be practiced without any strong convictions, to achieve early retirement, you must know that this is what you want, and that you’re right for wanting it. Because you will be tested. You’ll be tested by the big spending temptations like trips and nicer places to live, and by the insidious, everyday pull of mindless spending. And you’ll be tested by other people who don’t share your vision and want to dictate how you should spend your money. To get through all that — over the multiple years that it takes to save — you’ve got to believe with every ounce of your being that you’re right, and that early retirement is what you truly want.

Willingness to Be Wrong

But. Get ready to embrace some paradoxes. Because not only do you have to be sure you’re right, you also have to be completely willing to be wrong. Because you will be wrong, a lot. You’ll be wrong about how parts of the journey will feel. You’ll be wrong about how early retirement will feel. Not because you’re dumb or haven’t thought it through, but because you can’t know without experiencing it for yourself. And you’ll be wrong about when the markets will go up or down, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be wrong about how long it will take you to reach early retirement, because you’ll actually take less time than you imagined.

More Hard Talks

Every relationship involves some hard talks. But if you’re partnered up and you both decide to pursue early retirement, prepare yourself for many more of ’em. Even if you’re lucky like we were and immediate got on board with the FIRE idea, and one of you didn’t have to convince the other (more hard talks!), you’ve still got lots to hash out. How much is really enough to let you both sleep at night. How long you both have to keep working. How much you’re spending when your partner is feeling more frugal. How much your partner is spending when you’re feeling more frugal. What to do about big offers at work that you know you can’t take. What to do when you’re burned out and exhausted and want to quit already but haven’t hit your number. If you want to get to early retirement with your marriage or partnership intact, these hard talks over the years aren’t optional.

Radical Responsibility

Retiring decades early requires taking complete, radical responsibility for your life and your circumstances. It means never saying, “Well I could never do that because…” You have to know that what happens is ultimately up to you, and is the direct result of the actions you take or don’t take.

Willingness to Surrender Control

But then you have to be just as willing to let that mindset go, because you truly can’t control everything, perhaps nothing less than the stock markets (and whether it snows in Tahoe). When we’re talking about investing, it’s up to you to do everything in your power to make smart choices, but then to surrender to the fact that you can’t control a thing. And regardless of what your emotions tell you you want to do, and regardless of what the markets are doing, you keep investing, over and over and over. And you ride that wave wherever it takes you.


Even in the best case scenarios, achieving early retirement takes years. It’s far less time than most people imagine it takes to save for retirement, but we’re still not talking about a goal you can achieve overnight. To ride it out with your sanity intact, you have to possess a deep well of patience. Patience to keep going to work every day and stay engaged there even though you know you’ll be peacing out soonish. Patience to keep saying no to things you might like to do or purchase in service of your larger goal. Patience to keep explaining to people who don’t understand, over and over, why you aren’t spending money on this thing they think you should be spending money on.


But if you’re too patient, you’ll just be happy riding it out in a conventional career like everyone else. To achieve early retirement, you need a big dose of impatience within you, a fire that tells you to hurry the hell up and save your money so you can get on with the rest of your life. Just don’t let that impatience out at work.

Acceptance of Uncertainty

You saved your magic number. You made yourself in expert in tax rules, the Roth conversion ladder, rental property math or whatever other knowledge you need to pull off your plan. You map out multiple contingency plans to make your plan bulletproof. But there’s still health care. Or the potential for bad sequences that jeopardize your security. You can never remove all the risk from your plan, even if you save 10 times what you need. All you can do is accept that there will always be uncertainty.

Willingness to Fail

We are wired to fear failure. And while no one wants to fail, to pursue early retirement doggedly, and — most importantly — to take the leap and kiss your steady paycheck goodbye, you have to be willing to fail. Because despite your best planning, everything could go wrong to the point where no amount of flexibility or cost cutting will save you. You have to look that fear in the face and say, “Yep, I’m okay with that possibility.” Because you know that the possibility of failing in your plan is still better than spending your whole life at work.

Passion for Life

Perhaps most of all, you must have a deep reservoir within you of passion for life. You must be so excited at everything there is to do besides work that when people ask you what you’re going to do with all your new free time, you respond, “What am I NOT going to do?!” Those who focus only on the math and not on what they’re actually going to do with their lives, and how they’ll have purpose in the next phase, and the ones who usually go back to work or end up unhappy. But that’s not you. You’re fired up, full of stoke and raring to go.

There’s a lot of paradoxical stuff in the mix here, and to achieve early retirement, you must embrace that. Balancing patience and impatience, control and surrender, conviction and openness. Fortunately, if you’re willing to stretch yourself, you can learn much of this while you’re on your journey.

What Do YOU Think It Takes to Retire Early?

Your turn, friends. What do you think it really takes to achieve early retirement? Based on where you are in your journey at this moment, or based on what you’ve read or observed from others, what do you think I’ve missed here? Or what do you think is most important on this list? Anything you disagree with? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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72 replies »

  1. I think anyone that retires early has to be slightly adventurous and resourceful to manage things that might come up and make their life fulfilling. Getting their definitely takes a lot of patience and discipline to stay the course especially if you aren’t naturally frugal. I think making the best of your current life really helps so you aren’t fixated on early retirement too mucj

  2. Since I’m an inveterate optimist, I’ve had to work at the “willingness to fail” part. Mr. ThreeYear, the much more grounded partner in our duo, likes to ask the hard questions like, “what do we do about healthcare?” that I would just as soon gloss over in our plans for location independence. But honestly, those hard questions make me go do research and bring concrete answers with numbers. Yes, they may mean more saving or a change to our plans, but honestly, they make our plans stronger in the end. You guys have done something amazing in retiring so early, and it is inspiring to read about and watch.

    • Thanks, Laurie! :-) And I am totally with you on the willingness to fail — it took me a LONG time to be okay with it. So no shame, especially because that fear of failure motivates you to do your homework and bolster your plans.

  3. Aside from the not working thing at a younger age, it sounds a lot like regular life: all opposites are true. It’s the tricky obstacle course juggling act of finding that balance, or moderation if that fits better.

    • Ha, indeed! All opposites ARE true. And I don’t think it’s moderation in this case, but truly being able to be opposite things simultaneously. ;-)

      • You make a good point. I don’t think it’s moderation. The weather channels way of determining an average weather pattern for the month is seeping in. Taking the unseasonably very warm and unseasonably very cold and calling it average temperature. I can assure you I never feel like the experience of two extremes comes out average.

        So yes, agree. Good call out.

      • What a perfect analogy! Or like the stock market — there are almost never “average returns” years. They’re way up and way down, but the average line still comes out looking remarkably smooth.

  4. I think you missed the one that MMM blogged about recently – confidence. But it’s probably built into “Conviction that you’re right” and “Willingness to Fail”. Great post!

  5. The patience is the part I am most worried about. We are at the beginning of a 15-20 year journey (I am trying to be very conservative about the returns we will see and our timeline. That is a long long time to keep at it. But right now I just take one day at a time, and remind myself even if we fail and run out of steam before we reach fI, no one could complain about having extra money in the bank.

    • There’s no point in sugarcoating it. Patience will probably be the hardest part! But, there’s also a very good chance you’ll shave time off that journey and get there sooner, so yay for that. And as you said, the worst case is still pretty great. ;-)

  6. Great points! My logical little brain just says to retire early, you simply need sufficient cash flow and a healthy list of productive activities to keep from getting bored.

    I’m curious about your move to Tahoe. I’ve got co-workers thinking of retiring to Reno (we are in Minnesota.) I hadn’t given much thought to Reno but am learning more about the Tahoe aspect and the favorable tax situation in Nevada. Do you have a few posts that highlight your decision to land in Reno? Do you find it as windy there as people say it is?

    Thanks, Tanja!!!

    • We deliberately chose NOT to move to Reno, but to stay in Tahoe proper, on the California side, and here’s lots more on why: https://ournextlife.com/2017/11/01/why-california/. But that said, Reno is a pretty great spot, actually, if you want reasonable cost of living, easy mountain access and more of a city feel. We wanted a smaller town and to be IN the mountains not just NEAR them, but that’s just personal preference.

      • I’m in Reno to be near the mountains and not in them. Because shoveling and digging out. 20 minutes to skiing. Minden/gardnerville are nice small towns near Lake Tahoe and also not IN the mountains. Plus much lower cost of living

  7. Mr. TA and I were talking about early retirement on the weekend and he has a hard time wrapping his mind around what he would do if he did retire early. He’s convinced he would be bored. Maybe he would be! But, it was an interesting conversation to have. I think it’s interesting that you need both patience and impatience to get to the finish line. I feel the same way about my tiny house savings goal. I know it’s going to take years to get there. But, my god, I want it right the heck now.

    I have a genuine question for you that I’ve thought about a lot as a “minimalist” and I’m interested in your take as a early retiree. Do/did you struggle with the idea that you’re life couldn’t begin until you retired early? I really struggle with the idea that my life won’t actually start happening until I’ve reached my tiny house goal. But then, what is this thing I’m doing now? I wake up every day and it feels like I’m living, but if my life won’t actually start until “this thing” happens, what is it that I’m doing day in and day out? That’s maybe a little philosophical for a Monday morning, but it’s something I think about a lot.

    • I bet you’ll enjoy this post by Matt at the Resume Gap (he sadly seems to have disappeared from blogging, which is too bad, but I guess he’s out enjoying his retired life!): http://theresumegap.com/dont-press-fast-forward-life/. It’s about exactly your question. And the answer is YES, of course I felt like I was aiming forward, until I realized that was only making me miserable. And that’s when I made up my mind to also live well in the present moment. But it’s a reminder I had to keep giving myself, almost every day!

  8. To me the first hint was to know the difference between “can have anything” and “can have everything”. I am a curious soul, never stops learning. I went back to do my PhD after 9 years of work. I do it while working. I plan to take on a new degree when I retire (thank you free education!) just because I am curious.

    When I was 19 I realized for the first time that when we pick one path of our life, we inevitably close the ones we haven’t chosen. If I chose to study chemistry, I forewent my career goals of being a Japanese language and culture translator. It was the most depressing thought ever. I mean, what do you mean I can only strive for a Nobel Prize and not an Oscar?

    And then at age of 33 I realized that I can have more than one chance in life. I can have my second life, second career. It took me 19 years to be where I am now. If I retire in 5, it will be 24, and I will be 40.

    This means I will have another full cycle of my life if I want to choose differently, do something else, and I will be all that more experienced, so frankly it should not take me 24 years to nail it.

    It’s a thought that has been my fuel for the past 2 years of pushing the FI thing.

    I would say, the key is to find what do you want to retire to, and the basis for it is to be passionate about what it outside of the cubicle.

  9. Great food for thought! I’m curious about how giving up the part of one’s identity that came from one’s job factors into this. Do you have to be willing to let that part of yourself go, or ideally, does that sense of loss get redirected into a new passion for life?

    • I would say it’s too soon for me to be able to answer that with certainty, but it sure feels at this point like you have to be willing to give up that identity. I don’t want to be the person forever who’s always saying, “Well I used to be this or that!” So yeah, there might very well be some feelings of loss that come with that, but the sooner you accept that, the longer you have to come to terms with it before it’s time to actually let go. :-)

  10. Tanja

    Another great post, though I am not sure I agree fully with the assumption that your money will grow fastest in low cost funds. While I do not believe everyone can be an active investor I would advocate to achieve your goals you need both a mix of index funds AND growth stocks at the earliest phases of your savings journey and that you do have to take an active role in managing both the proces of contributing to your nest egg and managing it. It is not the Ron Popeil Rotisserie where you “set it and forget it”

    We also didn’t see our lives as two halves, a working savings thrifty mode half, and a retirement half where new things we denied ourselves in the first half would magically be available to us. It has always been one life and the goal was simply at what point do we remove the paycheck and pay ourselves without changing anything other than no longer working 9 to 5 50 weeks a year. To us that was the milestone that mattered.

    My last days in the office are imminent and the idea of NOT working 9 to 5 for the first time in 30 years is a little scary but I have zero regrets and know that if I want work its out there for me (for now I am committed to NOT answering those calls for at least 6 months)

    I would ask you this: if you didn’t blog, podcast, speak, meet-up about FIRE (which for you is a big time commitment) what would you being doing the rest of your life to fill your days? As the leader of the pack here your examples of post work life are a bit atypical because almost certainly none of us will do what you do. Maybe a post about “what would life with nothing but unstructured time / zero commitments or deliverables for the Hester’s be like?” Have you sat yet for a few hours at the dining room table in silence doing a 2000 piece puzzle? Are your days never busy?

    Thanks as always

    • I definitely understand your perspective on stock picking and growth stocks, but the data are against you. ;-) (https://www.wsj.com/articles/indexes-beat-stock-pickers-even-over-15-years-1492039859) Far be it from me to try to talk anyone into changing their investing strategy, but I’ve read enough studies to be totally sold on low-fee index funds as our entire stock portfolio. (We also have some bonds and a rental property, of course.)

      To your other question, it’s hard to answer a hypothetical, but I’d for sure be writing no matter what, you just might not be reading it. :-) And yes, there are lots of puzzles! And I have things on my to do list every day because that’s the kind of person I am. I’m never going to be unproductive or not engaged in projects because I’m just not wired that way. But I’ll give your question more thought!

      • I know the WSJ study well, and I agree ACTIVELY MANAGED FUNDS don’t perform as well as index funds – Warren Buffet won his 10 year bet of index performance vs hedge fund challenge easily. Plus fund managers have a business strategy to get paid each year not to grow your assets steadily for a few decades

        But I am not actively managing or trying to time the market, I might make 3 position trades every one or two years (outside of dollar cost averaging purchases). if all you buy are indexes you miss the amazons, googles, apples, face books, of the world in terms of buy and hold. I am not saying that you should not buy index funds, I am saying a mix is good but better yet is the knowledge you gain by learning to study and invest – plus developing the experience so you can be in the most informed opinion about your financial health as possible is probably the greatest return of all

        Happy FIRE everyone!

      • As always, I am glad you have found an approach that works for you! I find individual level stock data mind numbingly boring, and though I agree it’s important to understand it (I do!), I have no desire to dig into this stuff this way, and would rather focus my curiosity elsewhere. But I’m glad you’re reaping the gains I’m missing out on with your diligence! :-)

  11. I think you also have to be a bit of a contrarian in life to question the retire-at-65 status quo. I’m naturally rebellious and question conventions so the FI lifestyle is a great fit for me (aside from ALL the other reasons to pursue FI).

  12. Enjoyed reading this. Lots.

    On my mind right now, in real time, as I transition towards early retirement are three things:

    Gratitude – although many endeavor to get out of the rut of an awful 9-5, I am immensely thankful to have worked for an org that has provided the basis for living our American dream while they employed me

    Risk management (which you cover in uncertainty) – the sky is falling, aaargh equities are at a peak, SoR risk is real and could happen…… All jesting aside, real challenges that can derail our FIRE plans when we don’t have the paycheck to fall back on

    Humility – as you point out, we are rare in doing this retire early thingy. Thus have to have the emotional intelligence to tell our story to friends, family in a way that does not come across as the most important thing ever. We are just making a decision to take our lives in a different direction and are humble enough to recognize that is all it is and we’re immensely happy about it and have the confidence to do it.

    • I’m SO EXCITED for you guys! You’re sooooooo close! It must feel amazing to have your news out there, like a huge weight off. :-) I love your additions, and though I was going more manifesto style today, I think gratitude is SO essential (and often overlooked), and humility is mostly absent on many FI blogs. (I think of that a bit as willingness to be wrong, but I like your take on it too.)

      Any big plans after you pull the ripcord??

      • I think this summer we are unlikely to venture further than perhaps a 1-2 week somewhere warm. Costa Rica or the Caribbean. Want to get settled into the NH home with some work on a few house projects and just chillax.
        Summer 2019 we plan a long trip in Europe. 3 weeks with family and friends at various spots between Glasgow and London. Then 4 weeks with a mixture of sailing off the coast of Croatia and AirBnB somewhere in the Greek isles. Mrs. PIE’s brother is in process of getting a sailing certificate to captain a yacht that can house both families on a sail. Should be a blast!!

      • Costa Rica or the Caribbean will still be amazing, though, even if it’s not a big trip. Our first international post-ER trip was only two weeks, and it was still marvelous. :-) And given that you’re getting settled in NH during that time, you’ll still have plenty of new excitement. And as for summer 2019, can we tag along?? ;-) It sounds amazing!

  13. That last part I think is most important – that there is an endless list of things you want to be doing with your time that it feels like you have no other choice than to take the leap. Because if the pull isn’t strong enough, it may honestly be best to stay put until you find that pull. But this is the same with traditional retirement; if all you look forward to is sitting around, life is going to look pretty boring in no time at all.

    • I recently read a study that TWO THIRDS of traditional retirees were bored within a year. TWO THIRDS!!!! Holy crap are we doing something wrong as a society. But yeah, if you aren’t all kinds of fired up about what you’re going to do with your time, please do yourself a favor and keep working at least a little bit longer. Just not liking work isn’t a good enough reason to quit. If that’s you reason, find another job. ;-)

      • Absolutely agree with you on this! I think a lot of people enter retirement without a plan – like you mentioned above you DO something everyday – I know I have my first 90 days all planned out and expect to have a rhythm by then that carries us forward.

        By the way I read (here) everything you write! Big fan

      • Aww, thanks, Phil! I really appreciate you saying that. :-) I think your 90 day plan sounds great, though make sure it includes lots of naps! :-)

  14. When folks find out that I’m retired, the second question (after “How old are you?”) is “How did you get there?” My somewhat cryptic reply is always “careful planning” but I realize there’s more to it than that.

    As you and others in the FIRE community have figured out, for most of us retiring early takes a lot of planning and, with the confidence that comes from that planning, a leap of faith.

    You also have to be willing to reject the status quo and make deliberate changes, not just talk or complain.

    Awareness and risk management, both pre- and post-retirement, are needed to understand your limitations, address uncertainty, and keep things from going sideways.

    And finally, no looking back! It’s all about the future!

  15. you must be fearless! i never did the whole career thing “correctly” in that i have quit or resigned from every job without having another lined up. my linkedin profile says it right on the top line: honest, capable, fearless. i guess in that sense i’ve “retired” half a dozen times.

  16. I am living vicariously through these immediate post-retirement thoughts and so enjoying it! So many paradoxes here, which points to the need to be able to balance everything! If, for example, you don’t get the right mix of patience/impatience, things are going to be much harder (I think I’m too far on the impatience side at the moment haha).

    • Glad you’re enjoying these initial retired ramblings! ;-) (Buckle up… they’re only getting crazier! Hahaha.) I don’t know that anyone balances all the paradoxes perfectly all the time, but it’s a good thing to observe. And if you notice things out of balance (too much impatience is NORMAL!), you can focus on dialing one thing back and boosting up the other.

  17. I think the ‘Passion for life’ is on the top of my list for reasons why I pursued FI. There are so many things that I want to learn and see that I couldn’t do when I had to devote 40+ hours of my week to work. My current partner pointed out my excitement for life to me when we met. I didn’t realize that was not normal. I have now, more than ever, sadly noticed that more people fall into the ‘I could never do that’ category.

    I also really enjoyed your comment about completing huge goals as inevitable. Just little steps mostly in the right direction can achieve huge things. It kinda cool to think about.

    • Hooray for passion for life. Folks who share that are always my favorite people. :-) And yeah, it’s funny to look at it in retrospect, that the achievement didn’t feel big in the moment because it was just one more baby step we took that day. :-) Lesson: keep taking those little tiny steps, and eventually they add up to something!

  18. My wife and I are on the path to early retirement. She’s in the “let’s start it now” camp and I am typically shooting holes in her seemingly wild plans to make it happen sooner. I am the conservative one who always wants a backup plan for the backup plan. Our accounts and spreadsheets are all saying we should be able to do this in about 5 years, but I compare it to sky diving. Logically, you know the parachute is going to work and you’re going to be so happy and proud of yourself for overcoming your fears and achieving something remarkable, but what if it doesn’t work *this* time!?

    My wife and I just had one of the hard talks you wrote about this weekend and I find myself questioning this FIRE idea more often lately than I ever had since we started our journey. Maybe that is what happens during the idle time you have between getting your financial life in order and waiting for the plan to execute over multiple years. As you’ve written about before, these middle years are quite boring as you wait for the math to work itself into place…

    Anyway, this morning I see both this post and MMM’s post about confidence in one’s planning and am again energized to keep going and accept that no matter how many backup plans we put in place, our risk will never be completely negated and at some point I’ll just have to make that first scary step in order to achieve something even more wonderful and exciting by retiring early.

    • You know I understand feeling scared. But what always helps me is remembering that it’s not danger on one side and safety on the other. It’s danger on both sides. If I didn’t retire early, maybe I’d spend all my able-bodied years working and be disabled before I could enjoy my free time. Maybe something tragic would happen and I’d die without ever controling my own time. Maybe work would continue to take a toll on my health or make me unhappy. Etc. Continuing to work isn’t free either, and remembering that always helps me get my head right. :-)

  19. Good list. So much of personal finance is not primarily about the numbers, but about our motivations, emotions, personalities, and preferences. It does seem like a huge factor in early retirement is simply having the idea–thinking outside the box and realizing what’s actually possible. And I love that bloggers like you are making that possibility more widely known.

  20. I loved this post. In my mind it is more “steadfast” vs. patience that is important. When I think patience it conjurs up pictures of waiting. Instead being stead fast requires you continue on the path until you reach your goal. I love the radical responsibility part. Dream it, own it, do it. I look forward to future posts!

    • I definitely see your point on steadfast. I went with patient because with a good automated plan, there truly is just tons of sitting and waiting. ;-) But potato, potahto. ;-)

  21. Great post. What I’m still wrapping my head around is when we retire early that we are still marketable and have skills. So, if we fail, then we hop back in if we need to, or make less doing something we like more. I’m trying to get over some of the trepidation of failure. It’s never fun, but isn’t that where we grow the most?

    • It is! But we’re finding it’s pretty easy to do a tiny bit of consulting that keeps our skills current and also heads off some sequence risk at the same time. I bet you’ll find it to be true, as well.

  22. Really nice post. While it is important to focus on the numbers and the conversation around it with respect to early retirement, these non-numerical aspects are as important.

    Like Angela, I also truly believe that the last one most important. A lot of people I know and see around me have no passion or interest per se beyond office. Planning out which passion and how would you pursue it post early-retirement is an important factor in being able to achieve it.

    • Couldn’t agree more! And being in early retirement, this feels all the more true. It would be awfully easy to feel aimless right now, but we put a ton of time in during our planning years to figuring out what was most important to us, and now we’re doing those things instead of scratching our heads and wondering what’s next. ;-)

  23. Thanks for this post. Your first part about conviction rings so true for me.

    “And you’ll be tested by other people who don’t share your vision and want to dictate how you should spend your money”

    Sometimes I feel selfish for being so single-minded about this goal I’m pursuing. I get the feeling family and some friends think I’m fortunate to have a good job and that I should spend more. One of my children always wants the latest games player; the other is always looking for another holiday. And we do do those things, just not as much as they want. But it’s hard not to feel selfish sometimes when I say no because I’m focussed on what I want. Especially because by the time I reach FI, my children will have left home.

    Without that absolute conviction that you’re right as you say in your post, it would be so easy to waver. Nobody likes feeling selfish.

    • I think if you feel selfish, make sure you’re doing some things that are altruistic. Volunteer in your free time. Donate to good causes when you can. Teach your kids to be good citizens in the world. If you do those things, then you’re for sure not selfish, and you can shut that thinking down. :-)

  24. I think patience with yourself, mainly. You will go through many different emotions throughout the journey. Trusting that you’ve done all that you can to prepare and that it’s a good course of action even when your heart is scared must take so much trust in yourself. I see trust and patience as two sides of one coin.

    • Holy crap yes! So. Many. Emotions. And not the expected ones. That’s an interesting notion that trust and patience go together, but I like it!

      • It’s much easier to be patient with yourself and others if you trust them. Thankfully, both you and Mark are trustworthy. No matter what emotion you are experiencing, you know that you are good at math and looking at things from many angles. You know that you did the research and ensured that you’d have a lovely retirement. Former you was so good to future you.

      • Great point. We’re soooo not perfect, and have lots of stuff that we’re continually trying to figure out, but you’re right that it’s much easier than it could be knowing we can trust each other and our math!

  25. We have everything in common with you and yet nothing! We are early retiring right now, we are doing it because great outdoors and adventure, we have given up high paying jobs and associated baubles (golden handcuffs!), we have got ourselves to FI quite quickly. But, we live on the other side of the world, we have a gaggle of kids, we are a decade older and we mostly made our money through property deals, fuelled by our high incomes admittedly. I like your 2 stage retirement plan, we kinda have the same but our stage 1 is shorter. I read your blog but haven’t commented yet, some great insights so thanks from an NZ reader

    • Hi Carol! Thanks so much for reading and for saying hi! :-) Congrats on making the big leap — that’s so exciting! It sounds like you guys did your FI journey the way that makes sense for you, and that’s pretty much the most any of us can ask. ;-)