Aligning your spending with your values with one of the first bits of advice many of us here when we get on the path to financial independence. But that advice usually goes on to talk about value — specifically what you get most value from — and not really about values at all. This is my case for why it serves you better to think about both what you value and your personal values when it comes to your spending and economic power.
A year ago, I issued the Use It Up Challenge, and lots of you took it on. (Tell me how it went!) But there was part of the challenge that we took on specifically — the nothing new year — that we didn’t fully live up to. So we’re leveling up this year. Also, it’s a big time for my friend Cait Flanders, and to celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of her book. Come enter!
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?
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’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.
We’ve got a new challenge for you! This one requires some context, which we share in detail in the post, but bottom line: the stuff we donate isn’t often ending up where we think. So we’re asking ourselves if donating and recycling are still the best course of action, or whether we should reconsider what we do with the stuff we no longer want. Join us, won’t you?
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!)
Right now we’re living a life of no. Work is sucking up almost all of our time, and we’re turning down invitations to do all the things we’d rather be doing than working. Our aspiration: switch to a life of yes very soon.
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.
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!
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!
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!
It’s easy to think of early retirement as all about the escape. But then what? We don’t want any part of our life to be defined solely by absence, by its lack of something, in our case the lack of work. We want our lives to be defined by presence, to be lived in the affirmative, the ultimate opt-in to what fires us up and makes us launch out of bed in the morning. That’s why we’re busy crafting a life that keeps the stoke high.
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.
Thinking about how we want to be remembered, we always come back to this idea of leaving the world in better shape than we found it, even if it’s only in little ways. And as early retirees, we’ll be in a unique position to do that, because we’ll be able to spend most of our time on projects that are important to us, that help our community, instead of focusing solely on earning a living. Here’s why we think everyone should build some joyful generosity into their life plan.
It’s that time again — when we share our quarterly stats and progress on the road to early retirement. Also in this update, something that’s got us so flipping excited — like party confetti emoji excited, you guys. Come check it out!
Early retirement will give us the incredible privilege of getting to dream big — and actually bring some of those dreams into the realm of the possible, the doable, the done. It’s not just about not working, although that’s a lovely thought all on its own – it’s about getting to do the things that most people only dream of, that can’t be done with three weeks of vacation a year, that can’t be done as just a side hustle. Let’s dream in maximum bigness!
today we’re tackling two topics: the question of how to define financial independence (and whether we’ve already reached that milestone without noticing), and sharing the contents of our already-full life bucket!
the last time we talked finances, we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave at the end of 2015, back when it appeared that we were ahead of schedule on our early retirement goals. but now we are now experiencing the financial hangover, the realization that actual reality may shake out differently than we’d hoped. all the more reason to keep our goals fluid!
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.
we generally don’t make it our business here to give financial advice, but if we were going to give advice on anything, this would be it: minimize your housing costs. if you really care about reaching financial independence, your choice of home will have a bigger impact than any other choice you make.
we have felt for years that, if something tragic happened and we died unexpectedly, we wouldn’t have a whole lot to show for our lives, or at least not the things that we’d want to be remembered for. rather than lament whether or not our accomplishments match our aspirations at this point in our lives, we decided to be the empowered authors of our own purpose. here’s what we mapped out.
we’re upping our game in 2016, you guys. and we’ve got our sights set on some biiiiiig goals. come along with us on the journey!
we’re not really new year’s resolution people, but we have definitely been on a journey to see the best in situations — from appreciating beauty more of the time, to looking on the bright side at work, to enjoying the journey of early retirement instead of always focusing on the end goal. so we’re determined to ride that wave into 2016.
we’re just a little over a week away from the end of the year, and now that we know how our bonuses shook out (mine: better than my low expectations. mr. onl’s: better than our fairly high expectations. wohoo!), it’s a good time to look at how we did this year, and look ahead to our goals for 2016.
we’ve been tracking our numbers for years now, and have always set annual goals for ourselves in terms of savings and mortgage paydown. but crazy as it may sound for us to say this, we’ve never defined those goals in terms of strictly what we would contribute. we’ve only defined our goals in terms of total balance. but with only goals about total balances, we now feel like we’re failing in the current market landscape, when the truth is that we’re saving more than ever. here’s how we’re adjusting our goals.
do you feel like a grown-up? if you’d asked us that question a year ago, we would have said no. in fact, it was a guiding a principle of our lives that most people never grow up, they just learn to fake it. but recently, we realized that something has changed. we can’t put our fingers on exactly when it happened, but somehow, we started to feel like grown-ups.
our bloggy buddy steve, who writes think save retire, started the about series a few weeks back that all bloggers are invited to continue, and more recently wrote a series on his own blog that he dubbed the “our next life” series. we love the name, obviously, and thought — why not also make it a series that we all contribute to? so this is our take. and we’d love for you to write your own and link back! who’s in?
we feel super lucky to have somehow retained our spirit of curiosity, and we think it will serve us well in our (hopefully) very long retirement, since we think curiosity is a big part of what will keep us from getting old too fast. here’s our plan for fostering a spirit of lifelong curiosity to keep our minds nimble and active for decades to come.
looking at things big picture, we’re astonished at how far we’ve come in a short time, aided in large part by jobs that overpay us. since we bought the house four years ago, our net worth has tripled, and the year-over-year gains are pretty big, owing to us getting serious about saving and about paying off the house quickly, as well as growth in the markets since 2009.
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.
when we think about early retirement in the abstract, the visions we each have revolve around getting out into the big wide world. our individual visions differ in the where, but not much in the what, the how or the why.
don’t let any of our more philosophical posts fool you — we’re still total nerds, and we love tracking every possible aspect of our early retirement plan as much as the next guy. but, we don’t share our numbers here, which has sometimes made it tough to explain some of our more unique circumstances, like our need for a two-part retirement.
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, […]
today’s topic is one we wrestle with a lot, and which feels central to us as early retirement inches closer and closer: how will we define ourselves once our careers no longer define us?
Today: our reasons for being optimistic about our vision for early retirement, and for making things work in spite of the inherent risks.
Today we have a guest post from Eat the Financial Elephant on the weight of your decisions — both in finances, and in backpacking.
we don’t really know what we want to do when we grow up. but we think early retirement will finally give us the time and breathing room to find out. and we know for sure that we’re about to get a lot more useful to society, not less.
Today we’re guest posting over at Eat the Financial Elephant about our dirtbag dreams, and how reaching the summit of a mountain is a lot like reaching financial independence.
it’s pretty amazing how much motivation a goal can provide, and the chart is proof that having a goal — even if it was abstract back in 2011 — has worked mightily well for us.
our marriage is the most important thing to both of us, and we have always believed that no job is worth jeopardizing that. so we made a decision: even if we hadn’t hit our goal numbers, we will retire in december 2017.
we’re going to try to break through the anonymity barrier today, to share why this whole early retirement vision feels so crazy urgent to us. why we’ve already made some big sacrifices to make it a reality, and are prepared to make more.
maybe it’s how old we are, and how long we’ve worked without a break in demanding professions, but work-filled travel doesn’t sound like fun. fortunately, we believe that by working hard for a few more years, we’ll be in a position to make this dream happen in real life.
we’ll wake up on our own, with no alarm, when we feel rested. we’ll take our time sipping morning coffee, engaging with each other instead of staring at screens. we’ll happily get outside.
we’re going to live like cheapskates for the first 18 years of our retirement, and then if the markets cooperate, we’ll live a little larger in our later years, once we can tap our 401(k)s. for us, this plan is perfect. live cheaply when you’re young and resilient.
we have a very specific dream in mind: an end date for work, a place where we plan to live, and a plan for travel. but we didn’t just wake up with this dream, with the details filled in. it’s been an evolution.
sometimes it feels like we are missing out on life in our town and the surrounding outdoors. we daydream about the adventures we imagine for ourselves in just a few years, when we can retire early.
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.
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.
we are never lacking for things to do, and that’s why we want more time to do things that are priorities to us, and less time (or no time) to do things that are priorities to our employers. here’s our list.
we are doing this so that our next life will be centered around everything but work. the outdoors, travel, adventure, time to live slowly… these are the new bosses we hope to have.
our next life is when we can decide how we want to spend our days, our weeks, our life energy. when we decide where we want to sleep each night. when we decide to get outdoors, away from screen after screen after screen.