Hiya! We’re Tanja Hester, the author of the blog and the book Work Optional, and Mark Bunge, the accomplice, and we retired at the end of 2017 at the ages of 38 and 41. Welcome to our home on the internet.
What Is Our Next Life?
I’ve been blogging here since early 2015, so more than five years now, chronicling our journey to early retirement and well beyond. But it’s a whole lot more than that. Contrary to what reality TV stars might say, we are here to make friends. And that’s where you come in. We hope you’ll join our community of planners and dreamers, all of us working to save up for early retirement, get out of debt or just forge a path in life that’s different from the norm.
This is a place where no one will judge you for not being a perfect frugal master — in fact, we used to be the worst spenders of them all. Instead, this is a place where we can all seek out balance together, finding the best way to plan for the awesomely kick-ass future of our dreams while wringing every drop out of today.
Where we can talk about the financial side of early retirement, but not only that. Our Next Life goes deep into the feelings and philosophy, too, encouraging our community together to think differently and go beyond even the early retirement community’s unconventional conventional wisdom.
Tanja Hester, the Author
Tanja (pronounced like “Tonya”) is the author of this blog and the award-winning book Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way, and was dubbed the “matriarch of the women’s FIRE movement” by the New York Times. In addition, she’s a longtime political communications strategist (the pre-retirement career), a community and environmental activist, an insatiable reader and audiophile, an obsessive searcher for the best gluten-free beers and baked goods, a one-time mathlete, a former yoga and spinning teacher, and half of the award-winning podcast The Fairer Cents. To learn more about Tanja, including her public speaking, visit TanjaHester.com.
Mark Bunge, the Accomplice
Mark is a longtime pollster, a practical jokester (those even kinda rhyme!), an anti-elitist in all things but coffee, a world-class volleyball player in his mind (if only he had grown to be 6’6″!), president of the local avalanche center, and a perpetually late sleeper unless it’s a powder day.
What We’re All About
We believe in using our financial independence as a force for good, and that the entire community of people working toward financial independence can change the world for everyone else. We believe generosity and service are essential components of a good life, and that it’s far better to use your money to create the world you want to be a part of instead of optimizing every dollar.
We’re massive fans of the outdoors, and get out there as much as we can — alpine and backcountry skiing in the winter, and hiking, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, paddling, and a million other activities when the weather’s warmer. That love of the outdoors is why we moved from Los Angeles to North Lake Tahoe, California, in 2011.
We believe you don’t have to be a financial pro to be smart about your money, or even to do something audacious like quit working for life while still young. And we certainly don’t believe you have to give up everything fun or live like a monk to do it either!
Some random facts about us:
- We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in 2018, our first retired year
- No kids, just ridiculously tiny dogs (but we’ve thought about how our plan would differ if we had kids)
- We love photography. All photos you see on the blog are taken by us, unless clearly noted. (No reposting without written permission.)
- We keep our house freakishly cold in the winter, but are not especially frugal in most other ways. (Treehugger even wrote about it! And then Forbes did, too.)
- We could eat tacos or any other Mexican food every day, and never get sick of it
- We dream of extended travel one day, and plan to get a micro RV to fuel our adventures. We’ll be the ones parked at the base of the ski resort, raring for first chair!
For a rundown on how we saved for early retirement and how we’re supporting ourselves now, check out Our Early Retirement Plan. And for a sampling of my favorite posts and more on our backstory, check out The Best Of ONL.
Connect on social
- Twitter: @our_nextlife (The very best way to get a response quickly!)
- Instagram: @our_nextlife
- Facebook: ournextlife
- Pinterest: our_nextlife
Thanks for reading. We can’t wait to get to know you!
Everything on this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining professional financial advice. Nothing contained here implies a consulting or coaching relationship. Please consult a licensed financial or legal professional for advice on your own situation.
All photos are original and copyrighted by Our Next Life unless clearly noted. All rights reserved.
Linking encouraged with brief excerpts only, but posting photos and/or full content allowed only by express written permission.
Copyright 2015 – 2020 Tanja Hester / Our Next Life. All rights reserved.
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