Whether you need to buy exchange health insurance for 2019 or you’re just planning for future years in early retirement, it’s worth doing your homework now on health care costs and factors. To make that easier, I’ve highlighted the most important factors to consider and how to do the best research based on your situation.
Things have been moving quickly in the health care debate, which many of us on the verge of early retirement have been eyeing closely. Just this week, the latest Senate proposals to reform the Affordable Care Act and the later proposal to repeal it altogether were withdrawn. So where does that leave us all? What do we know? And more importantly, what do we still not know about health care and costs for early retirement? Let’s take a close look.
The world is full of rankings telling us where the best places are to retire, but they tend to focus a lot on state tax rates and weather, even though surveys say that people care less about taxes and weather than other factors like overall cost of living and health care quality. This post explores the health care quality factors we should all be weighting more heavily in deciding where to live in retirement, including some factors that none of the rankings take into account.
The best thing the Affordable Care Act did for early retirees was introduce some level of predictability about health care costs, and all indications are that that predictability is about to go away, no matter where things land with a new health care law. And that’s a big deal for early retirees. Here are some things you should be thinking about, especially if you’re planning to retire soon.
The question of when to retire this year — Work the full year? Retire sooner if we hit our numbers? — has been on our minds big time for many months, ever since we realized how ahead of schedule we are on our savings plan. But we’ve made peace with working the full year, and here’s why.
We value our health pretty much above everything. If we had a such thing as a “health portfolio,” it’s safe to say we’d value that above its financial counterpart. Something we are thinking a lot about is how we’ll ensure that we always have access to good quality medical care at every stage of our lives. Here’s the rundown of options we’re currently considering as the landscape keeps shifting.
We are officially covered by an Affordable Care Act (ACA) / Obamacare health insurance plan. Though getting covered was not as easy as we’d expected, and there were some big lessons we learned that all early retirees should know. Plus we talk about the challenge of projecting our income and revisit the benefits of keeping income low for health care purposes.
Today we’re talking about the darling of the FIRE movement: the HSA. It sounds great from a tax perspective, but do you actually come out ahead? Is there no consequence to having a high-deductible plan? Let’s dig into the question.
The most recent debates on health care reform have brought out a sentiment that has reared its ugly head before: the idea that health is totally within our control, and therefore anyone who’s not entirely healthy is somehow at fault. Why that’s both false and bonkers, and why it matters.
It’s nothing new to say that our collective digital life has made many of us focus too much on signs of external digital validation such as likes and comments. I’ve so far been okay at avoiding that trap, but after we leave our careers, the work I do will be more digital than ever. And given my gold star-seeking tendencies, how can I redefine my self worth post-career without falling into the digital stats trap?
We’ve talked a lot about health care lately, given the political climate, but not health itself. And health is super important to us. Why bother planning for a long retirement if we aren’t going to stay healthy enough to enjoy it? Here’s everything we’re doing and thinking about to increase our chances of reaching a ripe old age in good health.
Subsidies are in the air right now, with them likely disappearing for health care under the next administration. But “subsidy” is just one word for a concept that most of us embrace openly and unquestioningly: the idea of incentives for things that provide a social good. Think tax credits and deductions, and public services across the spectrum. Today, how subsidies have made my success in life possible, and how they are making our early retirement possible, even without the ACA.
Over the years, we’ve gotten better at travel than just about anything else. So today we’re going off the financial path for a sec to share our best life hacks for staying healthy while traveling. Questions welcome!
we’ve mentioned several times over the past few months that we’ve been working on a monster post on health care, obamacare/aca coverage and how the subsidy limits are affecting our retirement budget projections. but we’ve realized that the more interesting topic is the moral catch-22 of the affordable care act subsidies.
lots of being healthy is absolutely free: getting outside to exercise in the fresh air, choosing not to smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding toxic people. and we do all of that stuff. but we also spend out on our health in some big ways, and plan to do even more when we’re retired. some of these expenditures may not seem health-related, but we see them that way, and that makes them worth it to us.
your health is the single most important thing you have. without it, you can’t enjoy anything you work for in your life, or not for long, at least.
Do the roller coastering markets have you concerned about the your early retirement plan? Sequence risk is by far the biggest risk early retirees face, and that risk can come from market crashes, long-term mediocre returns and even rising health care costs. Fortunately, though, we can all put ourselves in a good position to head off that risk, without lengthening the timeline to early retirement, by making some smart choices with asset allocation and behavior.
We’re less than three weeks from our early retirement, and still have a few things to do, mostly on the health care front. Plus we’re noticing that the scarcity thinking in these final weeks is strong — even stronger than we’d guessed it would be. See how we’re coping and help us make sure we’re not forgetting anything!
When we first formulated a real early retirement plan, it was based on the rigid belief that we’d never, ever work again. Or at least never *have* to work again. And while that’s still true — we haven’t expedited our plan by forcing ourselves to earn income in the future — we now expect to get a much more diversified set of income streams in early retirement. In part because life happens and we’ve made some different choices along the way. And in part because that recession hasn’t hit yet, health care is still up in the air, and it makes sense to keep hedging against sequence risk and health insurance uncertainty.
It’s time for our second quarter early retirement progress report — our second to last! — complete with charts galore. This quarter we hit another milestone that’s both wonderful and a relief, and we’re setting our sights on building up a sizable cushion by year’s end for future health care unknowns. Plus: we’ve launched a reader survey and we’d LOVE your input.
Though a lot is still unknown about what policies we’ll see under a Trump presidency, this much is clear: a lot is going to change. From health care, to taxes to economics, here’s what we know so far about the election’s impact on early retirees.
Today is a “clip show” post of sorts, putting together for the first time all of our money beliefs and actions that have gotten us where we are today. We spend a lot of time looking forward, and projecting future health care needs, where our income could come from and of course all the feelings. Today we’re sharing the master list, the grand compendium of everything that’s helped us get this far in our journey to early retirement.
My last post was about how the discourse of the FIRE community upholds systemic racism, but today’s is much more personal. This is about how our choices as individuals — as investors, as people choosing where to live, as earners, as tax payers and as charitable givers — impact and likely harm others, especially those who are already impacted by racial inequality. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps we can take to do better, and to ensure that we’re not harming others in our quest to achieve work-optional life.
We’re in an unprecedented moment in history, with people staying home, businesses closed, stock markets going for a wild ride, and most of all, fear for our lives as the coronavirus pandemic worsens. What does all of this mean for the FIRE movement? What does it mean for you? Read on.
Today I’m tackling a popular and contentious principle in the FIRE community: the 4% rule. I’ve written about a major flaw of the “rule” before, namely that it relies on a false myth of level spending year over year in retirement, but today I’m taking on whether we can actually expect the 4% rule to give us enough of a margin of safety in the future.
After taking a little time off from the blog to promote Work Optional, I’m back with a more detailed post on one of our biggest learnings thus far in early retirement: that you might spend more when you’re not working than you think you will. Let’s talk about why that is and what you should do about it.
The best step by step guide to retire early. ―MarketWatch Work Optional is now available wherever good books are sold, published by Hachette Books and Hachette Audio. Order now from Bookshop.org (benefits local, independent bookstores) Order now from Indie Bound Order now from Powells City of Books Order […]
Traveling when very few others travel has loads of benefits, most notably lower prices, sometimes dramatically so. But it’s not without its downsides, as we experienced on our recent trip to France. So let’s talk about those downsides.
It’s a day I’ve been waiting months for: the day when I get to share with you all the details of my NEW BOOK — what it’s about, how it’s different from the other books out there and some behind-the-scenes info on how it all came to be. Plus — of course! — how you can get your very own hands on it.
The best step by step guide to retire early. ―MarketWatch Work Optional is now available wherever good books are sold, published by Hachette Books and Hachette Audio. Order now from Bookshop.org (benefits local, independent bookstores) Order now from Indie Bound Order now from Powells City of Books Order […]
You don’t have to agree on what’s causing climate change to agree that it’s happening, that it’s getting worse and that it will affect those of us who are retiring early (just like it will affect everyone on the planet). So how do you account for something as massive as climate change in your financial and life planning? What do you do with the doom and gloom news stories, besides throw your hands in the air and declare it hopeless? Let’s break it down into actionable steps.
The FIRE movement has recently faced one of its biggest bits of criticism ever, from one of the country’s most famous financial experts (yes, that’d be Suze Orman), and the responses have been interesting. While plenty of folks have already responded to her critiques point by point, this is a good moment to remind ourselves why it’s so important not to write off any naysayers immediately, and instead to really listen to what they have to say.
It happened again recently: another high-profile media piece described the financial independence/retire early (FIRE) movement as one made up primarily of 30-something men in tech. This is a story some people love to tell, but it’s just that: a story. Let’s examine the myth, talk about why it’s harmful and kill it once and for all.
Today we’re digging into the archives to pull out everything I think anyone pursuing early retirement should know, pulling from some of my favorite posts from the past that have been buried by dozens or even hundreds of posts since publication.
Typical financial advice often focuses on learning to tell needs from wants. Which is great! But it only gets you so far. Most of the choices we make aren’t about needs vs. wants. They’re about wants vs. wants, or need-wants vs. want-needs. Rather than making your spending decisions based on this false binary, here’s why you should instead listen to the feelings of future you.
It’s 2018, the world is upside-down, we’re retired and we’re… saving for retirement??! It’s true, friends. Despite already saving for retirement and feeling completely solid with what we’ve saved, this year we’re saving even more. Here’s why and how.
A topic we don’t discuss often enough as a society is how to help our parents as they age — what’s expected of us as adult children, what the emotional toll might feel like and how much time it will all require. But those things are real, and they’re crucial to incorporate into your early retirement planning.
We didn’t contribute to Roth accounts when we were under the income limit, and for years didn’t think it was a big deal. But now we’re filled with Roth remorse. Here’s why.
For a long time, I let myself go down the magical thinking rabbit hole, convincing myself that early retirement would cure everything in my life that needed fixing. And even after I recognized that magical thinking for what it was, I still assumed that early retirement would fix a lot for us, especially things related to work stress and limited time. So how has that actually turned out so far? Let’s take a look.
The title of this one says it all. ;-) I’m writing a book, you guys! And I’m stoked to tell you all about it — where the dream originated, how it happened that it’s getting published and when you can get your hands on it.
You might be surprised to know when I truly felt financially independent, and it had nothing to do with leaving behind my career or being able to sleep until noon every day if I feel like it. (Though those are pretty great, too.) Instead, it was when I knew that Mark and I would both be okay financially whether we stay together or not.
I’ve written a bunch of times over the years about how important it is to branch out socially and make new friends in early retirement, especially if your work was particularly social and its absence will leave a void. We wasted no time in our hustle for new friends. Come see the results.
I get that there are plenty of folks who see early retirement as a selfish, lazy act that will ultimately make us drains on society. But those folks are ignoring the social good that each of us can do simply by quitting our jobs, as well as the incredible potential that early retirement offers each of us to do so much more.
I love our financial independence/early retirement blog community like crazy, but there are some things we can all be doing to serve readers better. Some of them are simple, and some aren’t. But we owe it to our readers to be more transparent and to be more in touch with what our readers are up against.
You know all the math. You’re saving at a high rate. You’re optimizing your spending and avoiding investments with high fees. But do you REALLY have what it takes to achieve early retirement? Come find out.
Maybe it’s because I was confined to the couch all last week with a migraine, and maybe it was because there was recently a fresh wave of “Early retirement will kill you!” headlines, but I decided to really dig into this question of whether early retirement could actually be bad for us. Here’s what I found.
The biggest non-financial question we’ve been getting lately, now that folks know we’ve retired, is “Aren’t you scared?!” And you might assume that people who’ve made the big leap and given up the big paychecks would say, “Nope!” But that’s not true. We are scared. Just as anyone doing something big and at least a little bit risky should be. But we didn’t let that fear hold us back, and that’s what actually matters.
We achieved early retirement and financial independence as DINKs (dual income, no kids), and of course having kids would change a bunch of things. Here’s our reflection on what we think kids would change. So tell us, what did we miss?
As total newbs to this whole early retirement thing, though admittedly newbs who’ve thought about this stuff a ton, we find ourselves now wrestling with a very practical question: Should we spend what we budgeted for this year, or aim to spend less, maybe a lot less? There are good reasons for either approach, so let’s talk about what those are.
Our early retirement savings journey has come to an end, and now it’s time for our very last financial update! This time, I share a lot more story behind the numbers than we could in the past, and provide all new detail on just how much we’ve saved.
Sooo you know the goal we’ve been working toward and blogging about for years, of retiring at 38 and 41? Well, we did it! We retired early! And as we slowly adjust to our next life, here’s all the stuff we’re planning.
It’s actually here! The very last Monday of our working careers. We’re still feeling a lot, but it feels like something has changed in the last week. And while we have a lot of gratitude we want to express in this last week, we’ve surprised ourselves big time by actually feeling completely ready to make this leap.
We officially have so few work days left that we can count them on our fingers and toes. Which means we’re 100 percent fired up, right? Um, yeah, about that. Turns out even though I knew the feelings at this stage would be complicated, they’re even more conflicting that I expected. And that’s not to mention how I feel physically. How this point in time feels so different from what I expected.
Just as we have a mission in early retirement to figure out what we want to do when we grow up, and to adventure more, we also have a mission to be more charitable, both by volunteering and by giving money directly to important causes. Which may seem harder when we have less cash flow coming in. But there are some good ways to build charitable giving into your retirement financial plan, including with a donor advised fund. What’s your charitable mission?
The most common question we got after revealing where we live was “But… California?! It’s such a high-tax state!” So let’s take a look at why we think California can be a great place to retire, as can many high tax states. Because there’s so much more to total cost and overall lifestyle than just income taxes, especially given that income taxes are far less relevant to early retirees.
We’re just back from FinCon17, and here’s a full report on how it all went. (Spoiler: We loved every second.) And, for those who aren’t bloggers or just aren’t interested in FinCon, let’s talk all about how we can create community outside of big, formal events — because I think it’s actually easy to do!
In just two short months, we’ll be retired and living on a constrained income for the first time in ages. But we’re not worried, because we have a whole bunch of ways to live beyond that budget, especially once we have time to invest in research and deal-finding. (Plus, we can live a pretty sweet life for not a lot of money, so it doesn’t take much budget stretching to feel like we’re living a life of luxury.) Check out our plan for living beyond our budget — and then let us know what we missed!
Today we’re continuing the mini-series on Social Security and Medicare by looking at whether or not you should build Social Security into your retirement plan. We’re not counting on it, in part because we don’t need to, but also for some big reasons that are worth considering for everyone who wants a secure financial future. Give it a read and then let us know what you think!
The question of whether 4 percent is a safe withdrawal rate, as the “4 percent rule” suggests has been — and will continue to be — debated endlessly. Fortunately, this isn’t more of that debate. Instead, let’s look at whether the fundamental underlying assumption of the 4 percent rule — level spending every year — is actually realistic and safe to plan around. (Spoiler: it’s not.)
Holy moly — it’s our *very last* quarterly financial update before we retire early in a little over two months from now! (Can I just keep typing exclamation points and have that count as an intro?) !!!!!! The third quarter was a good one for us, and it’s looking like we have a good chance of hitting our stretch “magic number” goal. Come see where we are, and then share your Q3 progress with all of us!
We’re getting into the home stretch! With only about three months left to work — forever! — we’re feeling good about all that we’ve checked off our to do list. But we also wonder, what are we forgetting? And that’s where you come in. We’d love your help to tell us what else belongs on our final pre-retirement to do list. Come chime in!
We know — the excitement of the *early* part of early retirement is powerful. So much so that it’s easy to focus our retirement planning mostly on those early years. The later years are also so much harder to predict — more variables, a longer time horizon, more unknown unknowns. But as we’ve seen in our own planning, it’s easy to have an inadvertent early phase bias built in — here’s how to suss that out and ensure that you’re planning for both your early retirement and traditional retirement.
Today we’re tackling a question that I know a lot of people ponder before retiring early: whether or not to try to negotiate a layoff or severance on your way out, to soften the landing. We’ve given it tons of thought, and have decided that approach isn’t for us — but it very well might be for you. Let’s examine both sides.
Today is officially day 100 in our countdown of workdays left before we pull the ripcord and end our careers. Which is exciting! But excitement isn’t our overwhelming emotion right now — what we’re feeling instead is a pretty big surprise. How things finally got real, and the unexpected feelings that came with that.
Our early retirement might be right around the corner, but we still have a lot to do before the year is up to make sure that we’re truly ready to make the big leap. Then after we pull the plug, we have a different set of things to do. Here are our big lists of things to do before we retire early, and right after, as well as things we’ve already checked off the list this year. Are we missing anything? Let us know!
Some possible fighting words today, as we delve into the question of whether it makes sense to think of both taxable funds and tax-advantaged retirement funds as one big pool of money. Why does it matter? Because there are a bunch of potentially huge downsides to withdrawing traditional retirement funds early through Roth conversions or rule 72t distributions (or different approaches that exist in other countries). Fortunately, there’s another great option if you’re willing to do a little more math.
We’re all getting conflicting signals right now: From financial analysts predicting lousy returns for the foreseeable future, and from early retirees reporting how they’re beating their projections every quarter. We could take away two very different lessons from this dissonance: that we need to make sure our plan is extra solid and based on low projected returns, or that we’re probably overthinking it all and working longer than we need to. We have an opinion on this (always do!), and share why we’re taking the more conservative approach, because: recency bias.
Though we’ve been thinking about all the questions that go with the end of work for months now, we’re late in realizing that we need to be ready to respond if our companies lay on the hard sell to try to get us to stay. We’ve given it some thought, and here’s what it would take for us. What would it take for you?
The fact that we are retiring at the end of this year is getting more and more real for us, and some of that feels scary. But it also feels crazy exciting for obvious reasons, and for less obvious ones like the forthcoming opportunity to re-engineer our lives to reinforce better habits and avoid triggering the bad ones associated with our current work lives.
It’s so fun and exciting to plan for financial independence and early retirement that it’s easy to focus only on what happens when things go well. But it’s important to pressure test our plans to make sure they will still hold up even if (or when!) things don’t go as planned. Here’s our suggestion on one way to do that.
Today I’m on the Mad Fientist podcast! To celebrate the occasion, we’ve got a monster post with the full rundown on every aspect of our financial plan and financial philosophy, so new readers can get a better sense of us, and long-time followers can see everything all in one place.
We’re generally optimists about things and — though it seems like a paradox — we become most optimistic when we’ve delved into all the bad stuff that could possibly befall us. That’s the only way we can really know that we’re well prepared — and it’s easy to be optimistic when you’re prepared. And it only makes sense to prepare for market crashes, because they’re inevitable and inescapable. Here’s our game plan for dealing with them.
Today’s a biggie: the culmination of so many discussions and decisions! Will we pay down the mortgage or pad our taxable accounts? How did our 2016 look in the end? When will we retire in 2017? It’s all here! (Plus, happy holidays! Sending lots of holiday love!)
We’re thinking a lot lately about asking for more — asking for the compensation we deserve at work, and asking more of ourselves. And now, it’s official: in 2016, we successfully did both. Today, the story of how I negotiated for more money at work, and how we rose to the higher challenges we’d set for ourselves this year. Do we consider 2016 an unqualified success? Read on!
Lately I’ve been making it sound like we both want to retire as soon as humanly possible, but that’s not true. I’m the one who wants out ASAP, while Mr. ONL is playing the role of the financially prudent one and trying to keep us working for one more year, as we’d always planned. But that’s not where we started — he used to be the one who wanted to quit ASAP, while I wanted to be sure we were prepared times ten. Today: the story of our retirement timing role reversal.
This is both an exciting time and an anxious time for us — exciting because we’re so close to achieving our biggest life goal, and anxious because of all the uncertainty the election put on early retirees. Add to that our ongoing work stress, and it all has us wondering what would happen if we retired today. Today, we explore that thought experiment.
Today: a nudge. Not just to tune in to your gratitude, and to express it (out loud!) to those who have impacted your life for the better. But to go beyond gratitude to real generosity and action. Our world depends on it!
Today, a post about the under-recognized benefits of spending less in early retirement, because spending less means earning less, and earning less means a whole bunch of benefits. (Psst: the biggest one is insulation from Obamacare price hikes.) Let’s take a deep dive into the many benefits that come with earning a low income in your early retirement years.
As we promised in our recent pre-retirement to do list post, we’re dedicating a whole post to the question of what we’ll do with our 401(k) accounts after we retire next year. Our 401(k) accounts make up a major part of our portfolio — and up to 100% of what we’ll live on after age 60 — so we want to be sure they’re taken care of.
This Labor Day, we’re reflecting on the ever-speeding progress of labor and productivity in the developed world, and looking at our own longing to slow things way, way down. Can you relate? We bet you can! (Bonus: lots of geek-worthy charts and graphs!)
As we get closer and closer to our retirement date, the idea that we are actually going to retire early is becoming real. And as we get closer, we’re creating a different kind of to do list — one less focused on saving, and more focused on mapping out everything we need to do before we pull the plug on our careers next year.
Today we’re kicking off a new periodic series called The Retirement Lie. We recognize every day how lucky/fortunate/privileged/rare we are for being able to pursue early retirement, primarily because we also recognize that just being able to retire at all is becoming increasingly unlikely for a large majority of people. In this series, we’re delving into the forces that are keeping people from retiring confidently and securely, beginning with the way media talk about retirement savings.
We’re huge believers that there’s no one “right way” to do personal finance. Your own finance philosophy should follow out of what makes you truly happy. But we all have those quirky habits that don’t jive with our own philosophy, and today we’re fessing up to some of ours!
Get ready, because we’ve unleashed the excitement in today’s update! 2016 has been good to us financially, and we’re even farther ahead of schedule toward early retirement than we were at the end of the first quarter. This is a big one!
I am definitely a planner by nature, which means that we have all kinds of contingency plans, emergency preparedness plans, you name it. But I recently realized that I tend to plan for the worst only, and not for the almost worst. Today we’re talking about what happens if any of those not-quite-worst-case scenarios happen.
There’s an issue that we’ve struggled to get our heads around, which we’ll call our optimal retirement income: a level at which we get a big Obamacare/ACA subsidy on our health insurance, we pay low taxes and we enjoy a comfortable standard of living. But calculating that number is not as straightforward as it seems. Enter the income vs. cashflow discrepancy!
Something we get asked about semi-regularly is our two-tiered retirement plan, and why we aren’t thinking of our taxable and tax-deferred funds as all one pool. Here’s a breakdown of why.
We all tend to talk about saving money and reducing needs in ways that make us focus on the aspiration to be income-poor. But there are some important times when we should instead think like a rich person, since any aspiring FIer eventually becomes one!
A tension we notice a lot in PF blogland is the question of whether to prepay the mortgage, or sink as much money as possible into market funds, and it’s a question we struggle with, too. In some imaginary world in which we could see into the future and see how the markets will perform, it would be an easy decision to make. Let’s dig into how we answer this question in reality.
we’re super excited for today’s post. we have been dreaming of early retirement for years, but didn’t really know how to plan out what we conceptually knew we wanted. so we vaguely “saved money” and daydreamed about how great it would be not to work until we’re old. […]
we’re here today with a post we’ve been hinting at for a while: the full rundown on why we decided to go against conventional wisdom (and the well-grounded advice of many of you!) to make a personal loan to a family member. we wanted to make sure we had everything squared away before sharing the details, but now that time has come.
one of the misconceptions we used to have about frugality was that frugal people were cheap at all costs. it’s easy to view frugality as all or nothing, or to see frugality as trumping other values. but it doesn’t have to. a breakthrough idea for us was reframing how we see frugality in terms of the business term triple bottom line.
Let me dispel a big myth right now: Early retirement is not for everyone. Early retirement won’t magically fix everything we wish was different about us or our lives, and it comes with its own set of pitfalls and stresses. To some of us, those things are worth it, […]
we are as guilty as anyone of upsizing our spending at various times, mainly on restaurants and travel, but are thankful that several key factors have kept us from permanently inflating our lifestyle, namely our anchors, named for the anchoring effect or anchoring bias in psychology.
we hope we live super long lives. but we can’t predict everything. so while we enthusiastically plan for a long future, we also make sure that we have everything in order should the unthinkable happen, and something tragic befall one or both of us.
one of our earliest posts on this blog was about how we don’t share our numbers. it’s mostly because, one day not too far off in the distance, we will drop this whole anonymous charade, and we don’t want all the details of our finances attached to our names and faces. in our culture, money comes with meaning and prejudgments. having x amount means you’re supposed to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, spend a certain way. we don’t want those expectations to precede us.
This page will get you started on some of the content here at Our Next Life that’s most relevant to you. If you want to learn more about Tanja Hester (the author of the blog) and Mark Bunge (the behind-the-scenes money accomplice), check out About Tanja (& Mark), […]
we never hide that we are not frugal by nature, we’re not budgeters, and we’ve really only succeeded at retirement saving by employing a pay ourselves first approach that is essentially tricking ourselves into thinking we have far less to spend than we actually do. that is all well and good for now, but things will definitely have to change once we quit our jobs at the end of 2017.
Today: our reasons for being optimistic about our vision for early retirement, and for making things work in spite of the inherent risks.
this independence day, we’re sending some gratitude out to all those in the history of this great nation who’ve made it possible for us to pursue our financial independence.
few things in our lives have ever excited us as much as the early retirement that we’re eagerly planning for. but we also feel something that not many people talk about: the ways in which we’re letting ourselves down by retiring early.
the whole idea of early retirement of course feels like a risky proposition. but here’s the thing, to misquote the princess bride: life is risk. anyone who says differently is selling something.
the word “badass” gets thrown around a lot in personal finance/financial independence circles. that’s not the full story. all of us who are working toward or have achieved financial independence have one big thing in common. we’re lucky.
in retirement, our income will go way down. we’ve budgeted and planned and made a slew of spreadsheets, and in theory we are okay with that. but will money become something that stresses us out, or — worse — that gets between us?
This page is about our financial early retirement plan. If you want to know more about us and why we’re doing this, head over to the About page. We retired early at the end of 2017 when I (Tanja) was 38, and Mark was 41. We knew from […]
My new book and podcast, both called Wallet Activism, are here (or at least in pre-order form for the book). This post is all about why I undertook this new project, how you can read and listen, and what’s in it for you to pre-order the book.
I’m back on the blog after a long time away to write my next book, Wallet Activism, and to reflect on what’s actually worth saying after the last year. Though this wasn’t a break I intended, it taught me a lot about the value of stepping away for a while, something we can all relate to right now.
It’s deeply uncomfortable for a lot of us, white Americans especially, to talk about race. But if we care about helping people with their finances, or about not upholding systemic racism built into our system, we have no choice but to talk about it. Here is the tough but necessary work we must do.
Today’s post is by Mark, his second ever here on the blog, and it’s such a good one. He’s sharing some insight into his transition into early retirement, which has been different from mine in several ways, and the big lessons he’s taken from that, namely the importance of knowing yourself and getting to know yourself.
What is “work” anyway? It’s a question that plenty of folks will expend a great deal of oxygen on, and which we won’t answer here today. But we will talk about why it’s problematic when people decide to impose a particular definition of work on others, and what that tells us about our collective messed up relationship with work.
As much as I encourage anyone pursuing financial independence to include charitable giving in their plan, the truth is that you don’t have to shell out big bucks to do good in the world. There are quite a few great ways to make a difference that cost you nothing or very little, especially if you have time on your hands.
I’ve had an odd realization the last few months in early retirement: I’d expected to catch up on sleep and exhale all the stress of work and find myself feeling perpetually well-rested and low stress. But in reality, I’m actually more aware of stress and more affected by sleepiness than I was before. But this isn’t a bad thing at all. Let’s talk about why.
In the last post, we talked about travel efficiency. And today we’re talking about what to pack — and what not to pack. In my million miles of flying and hundreds of hotel nights in all seasons and at all levels of formality, I’ve learned how to pack for carry-on luggage only, no matter what. Here’s how you can do it too.
It makes total sense why the low-information diet is a frequent topic of discussion among current and would-be early retirees. There’s so much bad news these days that can feel overwhelming, and some well-known writers have argued in favor of tuning out. But is the low-information diet actually good for us? Let’s look at the science. (And then let’s look at how we can manage news and social media more healthily!)
Back in 2015, with about two years of work to go, we decided to take a fairly radical step and ban all complaints about work. How did it go? What did we learn? Did it help? Read on to find out!
Today’s post is a personal one, digging into the biggest influence on me to retire early and — most importantly — on my own terms. Thanks to his disability, caused by a gene we both share, my dad didn’t get to retire on his own terms, and witnessing that shaped my priorities in big ways.
We’re now half a year into early retirement, so it’s a great time to step back and assess where we are compared to where we thought we’d be, both what we’ve checked off the to do list for the year, and how we’re adjusting to our new life.
Thoughts On Early Retirement and Post-FIRE Life From the Non-Blogging Partner // Q&A With Mark, Part 1
Today we’ve got a special treat! For the first time ever, Mark is here on the blog to share his thoughts on a whole range of questions we’ve gotten, from his thoughts on life as an early retiree to topics on which he has a different perspective from mine.
Nearly everyone who achieves financial independence feels some level of impatience at some point, and that’s normal. But it’s especially easy these days to cross the line from normal impatience to borderline obsession, which only magnifies and worsens that impatience. Here’s some of what we did — and what we WISH we’d done — to get through the middle saving years slog.
My old career involved rebranding organizations, and that was one of my favorite parts of the job. Now, every time I hear someone debate what retirement is or isn’t, I think, “There is no one common understanding of retirement, so it’s definitely ripe for a rebrand.” Well, let’s do it. Let’s rebrand retirement. Come weigh in on what you want the new brand to reflect.
It’s easy to observe that a lot of people — not just bloggers — end up working more than they expect to in early retirement, in large part because work feels very different when it’s by choice than when it’s by necessity. So why not plan for that and make your first year of early retirement a side hustle year? The benefits of doing so are potentially huge.
While the online financial independence community is fantastic for inspiration and support, having a real life circle of friends who are like-minded on money comes with enormous benefits. Let’s talk about what those benefits are, and how you can build or strengthen a frugal friend group in real life.
Our lives lately have looked slightly less than, er, adult. Some days we wonder why there are no grownups here to tell us what to do, instead just leaving us alone to do as we please with no structure whatsoever. It’s marvelous, of course, or at least marvelous for now, but we’re certainly wondering: At some point are we actually going to adapt to this new unstructured life?
We think we did this wrong in starting out our early retirement with too many things, including three trips, a long to do list, and a mad scramble to get out the door to our first big international trip to Taiwan. Or maybe we did it exactly right by accident?
We’re about to go through a life and financial transition as big as graduating from college or getting married — and that’s switching from earning plenty while working to earning very little in early retirement. Which means that we need a new set of systems to ensure our financial success, especially given our status as anti-budgeters. But it also means that we’re bringing back a tool we gave up years ago: the personal allowance.
It’s time, you guys! For nearly three years, and 300 posts, I’ve written as “Ms. ONL,” and referred to my partner in crime as “Mr. ONL.” We’ve obscured where we live, what we do for work, and a bunch of other identifying details. But that all ends now! Come meet the real humans behind Our Next Life.
It’s official. We’ve given notice at work, and now we’re starting to tell our teams and clients. We expected this to be an emotionally complicated time (no disappointment there), but we didn’t realize that the weight of keeping this all to ourselves had been quite so heavy. Click and I’ll tell you all about it.
It’s a two-for-one post today! First up, an examination of the joint urges among FIers to DIY our lives and finances, but also to optimize as much as we can. Let’s discuss how compatible those joint impulses really are, and the joy that comes from embracing the suboptimal. And then, it’s pre-reveal contest time! Check out the DIY swag I made just for the lucky winners, and enter your guesses for where we live, what we do for work, and any other fun facts you want to throw out there. Good luck!
The financial aspects of the early retirement journey are well trod at this point: reduce your expenses, save at a high rate, invest in assets that create passive income, blah blah blah. What’s less talked about is the emotional journey, which means that a lot of us are stepping off the map, and heading into uncharted territory. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s our take on navigating those emotions, and why the unexpected ones are so valuable in guiding your financial plans.
If you’d told me at the beginning of our early retirement journey that we’d be on the verge of retiring only six years later, and that we wouldn’t be miserable or feel like we’d lived a life of sacrifice to make it possible, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s true. And not because we haven’t dramatically cut our spending. We have. But because sacrifice is a perception, not an absolute, and we’ve managed to balance out cuts to our spending with additions to other parts of our lives. Here’s how.
Early retirement and financial independence are such huge goals that most of us can’t help but build them up in our minds, and that often leads to the totally normal tendency to get into magical thinking: believing early retirement will make us happier, or better people, or cure whatever else ails us. Today we get into why it’s worth countering that magical thinking, and how to do it.
There’s a principle in medicine that the dose makes the poison. Which means, very few substances are good or bad for us no matter what. Instead, what matters is how much of them we take. And it’s exactly the same with money. It’s easy to make symbols of things like buying lattes or paying for cable, but those behaviors aren’t objectively a problem. What might be the problem, however, is the dose. Why we’re big believers in focusing on the dose, in context, and embracing a sense of radical moderation.
The world of today is full of ever-increasing conveniences — cooking boxes full of pre-measured and pre-chopped ingredients that let you whip up delicious meals at home, personal digital assistants that keep a virtual ear open for your every request, apps that tell you exactly what you need to know so you don’t have to think. And while these things do make life easier, the question is: Is an easier life actually good for us? Is it good for our long-term brain health?
Lately we’ve been mulling over a question: Is it a win or a fail to die with money leftover? Of course we can’t know how long we have, but if we could, would we prefer to spend our assets down before we die, or to be able to leave a big legacy behind? There’s a lot behind this question, and today we dig into all of it!
We’re huge believers in pacing ourselves on the way to early retirement — both finding ways to manage the impatience, and creating boundaries and self care habits that keep us healthy along the way. But as we get close to that finish line, it’s getting harder and harder not to break out into a full sprint.
Today we’re exploring a single question — Are some people predisposed to embrace the FI mindset? — through some personal stories, including a spending confession so out there I almost couldn’t hit publish. But most of all, we want to hear from you guys on this one — what do you think all FIers have in common, and can anyone become an FIer? Come weigh in!
An interesting thing happens with a lot of financial independence bloggers. As your audience grows, you suddenly have this incredibly opportunity not only to reach more readers, but to earn more from the blog. Which is wonderful! Except when it means you’re only telling part of the story. Here’s why this matters, and what we should all keep in mind as we read FI blogs.
Reaching financial independence is, more than anything, a waiting game. Especially for those who follow a passive investment strategy like indexing, there’s very little thinking to do once you set your plan in motion. But, the journey still takes years, often many years. Here’s why it’s so critical to pace yourself on that journey.
For a community that’s so into freedom, the financial independence blogosphere can be an awfully strict place with tons of rules. It can be hard to believe that we have the right to do some things just because we feel like it. Today, we give you permission to do exactly that, and share some of our most bratty financial decisions.
I think of myself as a naturally curious person, and that means that the list of things I want to do in retirement is longer than I’ll ever be able to get through. But even for the naturally curious, it’s worth cultivating both more curiosity and conscientiousness — to achieve success, however we define it, and to give a longer, healthier life.
Today is our second blogiversary! In some ways, nothing has changed — we’re still slogging toward that big goal. But in other, more important ways, SO MUCH has changed in our lives, driven in large part by this blog and the awesome people who read it. Today we take a look at where we’ve been, a look at where ONL is headed, and we answer your questions.
Happy new year! The last year of work was super stressful for us, and we’ve been mulling the question of whether we should or even can care less at work — and whether that would solve the problem. But, we’ve come to a different conclusion about the root of the problem, and it’s giving us a new directive for this year. Welcome to our 2017, the Year of No, preamble to our retired Life of Yes.
Anyone aspiring to retire early can list off a million reasons why we want to quit working, but what’s interesting is that most of those reasons have to do with work culture, not with work itself. On some level, we all crave the meaning and satisfaction that come with work, but the realities of modern work are very different from that work ideal. Learning to recognize the difference between work itself and work culture — and likewise the difference between job burnout and a true dead end career — can help us zero in on why we want to retire early to begin with.
Today we’re sharing stories we haven’t talked about before: the early retirees we’ve known in our lives, and how their experiences retiring shaped their retirements. Spoiler: Though all of them retired early, none of them retired completely on their own terms — and stats show that that’s the norm. The majority of people are forced to retire before they want to. Here’s what we’ve learned from seeing their experiences.
Almost a year ago, we realized that we’d reached financial independence. And reaching it hasn’t been anything like what we might have expected. Our FI life is still life, with all the usual ups and downs. Some things are better, but most things are the same. This year has taught us: Financial independence is a good goal, but a bad goalpost.
Our early retirement plan has gone through a lot of iterations, but one thing has remained constant: our insistence that we never want to have to work again. But we’re starting to realize that we’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. Come join us as we trace our journey to our recent epiphany that we will earn money in the future, even after we retire.
We get the question a lot: “How do you stay patient en route to early retirement?” But we’ve realized that’s the wrong question we should all be asking. The biggest predictor of happiness in the journey to early retirement isn’t how patient or impatient we are, it’s whether we stay engaged or let ourselves disengage at work. That’s why we now say: Don’t check out early.
We could only daydream about our future life and how different it will be from our current one for so long before we had to accept: Life won’t just be different. We will be different, too. For the first time, we’ll get to know the well rested versions of ourselves, and the less stressed versions. And it has us wondering: How well do we really know our post-retirement selves? And how well do we know post-retirement us, as a married couple? Let’s discuss!
The good financial news keeps rolling in over here at the Our Next Life house. We hinted at it recently, but today we’re sharing loads more detail about our ahead-of-schedule progress toward early retirement, with charts galore. It’s starting to feel downright magical around here!
Creating a vision for early retirement isn’t just important so you have cool stories to share — it’s crucially important to make sure you have a smooth transition into retirement, avoiding the declines in physical and mental health that many people experience, even in early retirement! Bonus: An update on our progress, and lots of graphics on creating a next life vision based on presence of awesomeness, not absence of work.
Today we’re talking about hustling — both of the generating business variety (ever-present in our careers) and the oft-discussed side hustle. We’ve done a lot of both, and will share what we’ve learned along the way — including giving you permission if you want it to stop side hustling altogether.
We like to plan for pretty much every possible eventuality, and given that we’ve already put about as many contingency plans in place as we can, we’re still thinking about the question, What if things don’t go as planned? But now we’re on to the more metaphysical answers, not the financial ones, like: What are our early retirement deal-breakers?
Today we’re examining my own bootstraps story — how I put myself through college — and questioning both whether that’s the full story, and whether defining that story more broadly gives us more to be thankful for.
Thanks to thinking about early retirement pretty much all the time, reading lots of thought-provoking blogs about it, and of course writing about it in a few thousand words a week, our thinking has continued to evolve. Today we’re diving into how we’re now thinking about our time, money and purpose in early retirement.
Something we need to plan for better is how we’ll get social interaction after we leave the workforce. In other words: We need more friends! Soon, we’ll have our best free time when our current friends are at work, so need friends whose time aligns with ours. Plus, having good friends does wonders for mental and physical health, especially as we age.
We have said from our second post ever that our vision for early retirement has never included mandatory work. And we’ve been more vigilant about this fact than probably any other in our early retirement plan. We’ve shifted our investments, we’ve changed our timelines, we’ve debated when to give notice, but we’ve never wavered on the no mandatory work idea. But… that might be changing.
Though we’re world-class in exactly nothing, and are in our late 30s, we actually have a lot in common with pro athletes. And we bet you do too! Let’s talk about the best way to enjoy a life filled to the brim with outdoor adventures or whatever you’re passionate about… even naps!
The massacre in Orlando reminds us that nothing is guaranteed, and while we can’t do everything, we can do those things that are most important. So today, a call to action. Whatever you’ve been putting off, stop putting it off. Do it now.
Before we left the big city we used to call home, we felt like we’d never be able to afford an actual house, which made us feel “poor” even though we had money saved and earned a good living. And now, we feel comparatively “rich” despite earning about the same. Today we discuss the impact of where we live *and* its culture on how relatively wealthy we feel.
We’re issuing a challenge, you guys! Instead of focusing on what we’re all doing to get to early retirement that’s the same (4% rule, high savings rate, etc.), let’s celebrate what each of us is doing that’s unique!
We constantly come across new tips on how to get to “optimal frugality,” and while we think it’s great to continually try to optimize your spending, something that we now know to be true is that there’s never a point of ultimate optimization, a point when we have everything figured out perfectly. Rather, it’s an ongoing process of dropping habits and adding new ones. Here are some we’re happy we’ve dropped.
A lot of what we talk about here is specific to people on the early retirement path, but today’s topic is something every single one of us should have as an important part of our financial plan: an emergency fund. We think of our emergency fund not as a one-and-done kinda thing, but as something that has evolved upward and downward over time. And now, as we’re approaching early retirement, we’re once again rethinking how much we need to have saved in our e-fund when we hit our magical date.
I have a super visceral memory related to taxes that I still carry around with me. My parents divorced when I was in high school. The divorce itself was fine, but what was not fine was watching them get audited post-divorce for a year in which they had been married. It was the worst I ever saw of my parents, but it was also an important lesson in dealing with accountants and the IRS.
We are often most afraid of what we don’t understand. Whether it’s fearing flying because we don’t really know how it works, or fearing investing because the markets feel like a mystery to us, the solution is simple: Learn all you can.
if you watched yesterday’s super bowl, you couldn’t miss all the speculation that peyton manning is going to retire after this season. what’s incredible is that peyton has the rare privilege of choosing to go out on top, on his own terms. not many people, in sports and in regular working life, get that choice.
we’ve had that mythical first year of freedom on our minds in a big way lately. like any aspiring early retirees worth our salt, we spend lots of time thinking about everything we want to do when we have more time on our hands, but we’ve been getting more specific, and thinking about the things we’ll do as we adjust to our post-work era, and some of the big life goals that we want to tackle right away.
we are definitely not what you would call minimalists. we would say that we are more about living simply. but even though we don’t consider ourselves to be minimalists, we’ve learned a lot about minimalism — and life generally — from one particular thing that we do a lot: travel for work.
this week and next are scary weeks for us. these are the weeks when we’ll find out if we’ll be doing a happy dance that we hit our year-end goals, or making sad puppy faces at each other for the next few weeks because we missed the mark. yep, it’s bonus time.
early retirement is a bfd. and it’s not for everyone. it’s a very different path from the one most people follow for a reason, and it’s not one we should go down without having our eyes wide open. early retirement won’t magically fix everything we wish was different about us or our lives, and it comes with its own set of pitfalls and stresses. to help sort this out, we’ve put together a list: the ten questions you should be able to answer before you retire early.
today we’re sharing the clearest glimpse yet into where we are on our journey toward early retirement in money terms, along with a detailed breakdown of how we plan to fund both our early retirement and our full retirement. we’re talking percentages instead of absolute numbers, but are going into a lot more detail than we ever have before. that’s right: it’s all the charts.
for early retirees, if our marriages don’t work out, there’s a high likelihood that our early retirements will fail as well. that’s why we should invest as much in our marriages as we do in our index funds or our dividend stock accounts — maybe more. we should see our marriages as our most important investments, and nurture them accordingly.
we have a clear vision for the life we want to lead when we retire, and that means living in the mountains and having a permanent home base, which don’t come cheap. we’re okay with those expenses, but have given up lots of other things to make our early retirement dreams a reality.
it’s so easy to be blind to our own bad habits, and so to avoid forgetting about the bad ones we’ve recently identified, we’ve started making a list of what we want to change just as soon as work is in our rearview mirror. we’re calling the list our resolutions for retirement, and expect this list to grow over time.
today we’re continuing the about series started by think save retire. we love this idea, and hope you’ll do it too! the idea is to share details not covered by your “about” page.
we know we’re not the only ones who have thoughts like: after we retire, things will be so much easier. things will be less stressful. things will be simpler. and most likely things will be simpler. but the idea that we aren’t in control of our lives now, […]
we frequently read blog posts outlining people’s grocery spending and practically have to pick our jaws up off the floor afterward. you’re spending only $30 a week for groceries?!?! you’re feeding a family of four for $70 a week?!?! we even read one post talking about how the […]
Today we have a guest post from Eat the Financial Elephant on the weight of your decisions — both in finances, and in backpacking.
once we started planning in earnest for early retirement, we quickly realized: financial calculators all take a one-size-fits all approach. but what if your finances don’t fit neatly into this one-size-fits-all box?
fervent finance tapped us with a liebster award (thanks!) and asked us to answer some questions. here goes…
planning for early retirement forces you to do a lot of thinking about what you can and can’t live without. we’re willing to forgo most consumer culture in order to buy our free time.
at least one of us is not a gambler by nature, preferring things to be predictable, controllable and known (even if those concepts are themselves just illusions). but this is, for us, that rare thing in life that’s so worth doing that it’s also worth a pretty substantial risk.
we value time over money. we value people over money. we value experiences over things. we’re willing to live on a whole lot less than we currently earn.