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.
It’s easy to assume that the whole point of early retirement is to be able finally to stop striving. To stop working toward that next promotion, and to stop letting money be a big motivator in your decision-making. And while those two instances in particular are true, early retirement doesn’t have to mean the end – nor should it – of your ambition.
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.
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?
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.
Today we’re talking options, and keeping them open. Early retirement isn’t an ending, after all — it’s a beginning. And if we go into that beginning with a limited set of options, and no ability to change our course, we could be setting ourselves up for a less-than-ideal future. Here’s why it’s so important to have an exit plan from your exit plan, which really just means you’re giving yourself the financial and logistical resources to change your mind.
I definitely fell into magical thinking for years of our retirement planning, thinking I’d have time to do everything I’d ever dreamed of after we quit: travel the world, write novels, learn a gazillion languages, solve world hunger — you get the idea. But after talking to many early retirees, I’ve had to accept: Time will always be limited. And if I care about accomplishing goals or living a life of meaning, it’s crucial to go into retirement with an eye toward making time for what’s important, and ruthlessly cutting out what’s not.
We love that more and more people are talking about prenups these days (more financial transparency between partners is great!), but for those of us considering early retirement, we think a pre-FIRE agreement is even more important. After all, early retirement comes with its own set of major risks, some of which we’re insulated from to some extent as a couple, but others which become bigger risks for those who are married. Here’s how we’re navigating this.
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.
One of the bedrock principles of our early retirement vision is that we don’t ever want to *have* to work, and we want to choose which projects to take on regardless of whether they pay. Which is all nice in theory, but does that principle stand up in the real world? With this blog as our guinea pig, we put our ideals to the test. Here’s what we learned.
Today we’re talking mission statements, something that most companies have, but which few individuals or families do — which is a shame, because they can be super helpful in keeping you on-track to reach your biggest life goals. Think of your mission statement like a compass or GPS that helps you find your way if you ever start to wander off the path.
This year has been flying by, and we can’t believe it’s already time for our first quarter update. And it’s not just numbers on our minds — getting this close to retirement has us feeling all kinds of contradictory feelings, and the recent market boom has us in a state of disbelief.
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.
We attribute our financial success primarily to three things: not overspending on housing, earning above average incomes, and — as we’ll discuss in detail today — not inflating our lifestyle in many, many years. This “lifestyle stagnation” (think of it as level spending over time) can lead to pretty massive savings potential over time, and today we break it all down.
Though early retirement feels like a big goal in and of itself (and it is!), it’s not an endpoint. For most of us, it’s just the beginning, and it’s worth thinking in advance about what your next big audacious goal will be after FIRE. We offer some suggestions here!
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.
Right now, nearly everything in my work life is set up to remind me that I’m (deliberately in quotes) “important.” How will our egos handle early retirement, when all of that goes away? Will we feel invisible? How can we let go of the fake importance and focus on replacing what truly matters to us? Let’s dive into all of that.
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.
Living in the mountains has taught us that catastrophe comes quickly — wildfires can wipe out whole communities in the blink of an eye. While the world is still the safest it’s been since the dawn of civilization, there are many good reasons right now to up your savings game, both for your own safety, and for that of others.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
One of my favorite parts of FinCon was getting the chance to talk to bloggers who are ahead of us on their FIRE journeys, including several who are already retired. I asked them all if their last year of work was harder, and answers were mixed. It all seemed to come down to how much they cared about work in the home stretch, and it has gotten us wondering whether we can care less to make our last year less stressful.
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.
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.
We’re now almost 200 posts in on Our Next Life, so blogging anonymously isn’t something we give much thought to anymore. But now, with FinCon around the corner, we’re coming to terms with being around cameras for the first time, and sharing everything we’ve learned about blogging anonymously.
One of the ideas that’s having a major moment these days is the notion that we should all be pushing outside of our comfort zones. We all hear proclamations like, “Quit your job and travel the world!” Or “Stop wasting time in that boring job and do what you love!” Today we’re talking comfort zones and whether we always need to get out of them.
We’ve talked a little bit about upping our savings game, but we’ve only talked about it in general terms. Today, we’re going to get specific about how exactly we’re raising the bar, and especially what that looks like for non-budgeters like us.
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.
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.
If you’ve been reading here, it will come as no surprise that we care a lot more about happiness than we do about money. And happiness doesn’t happen by accident. For us, happiness right now means not waiting to become our best selves. Here’s how we’re doing that.
It’s not my favorite thing about myself, but I have come to accept that I am heavily motivated by the idea of getting gold stars, i.e. some form of recognition for my work. Today I’m contemplating what it will look like when work, my primary source of gold stars, is gone.
We’ve spent more than a decade building up our savings and investments, all the while granting them a special status by not touching them. Even shelling out $8,000 for our tax bill this year felt painful. The pain of paying that bill made me wonder if I have “special occasion thinking” around our investments. And if, when it comes time for it next year, we’ll actually be able to spend our investments. Let’s explore…
The current debate in the ONL house is when to quit our jobs. Barring a major market correction, we feel pretty good that we’ll hit our magic numbers ahead of schedule next year, possibly as early as Q2 of 2017. But of course before we can quit, we have to give notice. And that brings with it a whole bunch of other questions. Here’s how we’re thinking about them.
While we’re making fast progress toward FIRE, it’s not because we are especially gifted in the discipline department. We still slip up and make occasional impulse purchases, even now, multiple years into our FIRE journey. But, we’ve found a way to fake discipline, through the motivating power of streaks.
We’d all love it to be otherwise, but getting to big financial goals is mostly a matter of letting time pass. Rather than sit around feeling impatient all the time, and let that suck the joy out of the journey, we’ve found some strategies that help us pass the time without getting quite so antsy.
There’s something inherently reductive about sharing ourselves online, even in a long-form blog, just as there is something inherently reductive in our own memories. We’re still figuring out how to share our full, authentic selves here, without getting bogged down in the mundane and boring.
Lately we’ve been wondering: How many of us who are saving for early retirement would happily spend more if we had more to spend? If spending more wouldn’t derail our plans?
We love the small mountain town where we live, but the reality is that we’re not actually here all that much because of work travel. What happens when we stop getting our fill of city time, courtesy of work? Are we cut out for small town living for the long haul?
it’s the most math ever! today we’re talking about how we calculated what we need to save for early retirement, since the 4 percent rule doesn’t exactly work as planned for all early retirees.
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 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.
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. […]
many of us who are on the path to early retirement can relate to the feeling of getting so focused on the future — this magical, perfect, supposedly better than real future where we have no stress and never have to deal with work drama — that it’s easy to miss out on what’s happening right in front of us. or of getting so caught up in our own little plans that we miss the big picture.
in the financial independence/early retirement space, we know we’re not alone in complaining about work. and with good reason. but we’ve made a decision: we’re done complaining about work.
big news: we got the okay from the extended family to cut out gifts for adults this year, and give only homemade or secondhand gifts to the kiddos. we’re stoked about this shift, and hope it sticks in future years. gift-giving occasions are emotionally fraught for savers, but here’s how we convinced our families (slowly) to embrace the no-spend holidays.
wow, you guys. though time doesn’t fly when you’re trying hard to retire already, it feels like just yesterday that we started this little blog to chronicle our journey to early retirement (actually it was about 10 months ago), and here we are, 100 posts later! we thought we’d celebrate the day with a rundown on some of the other numbers we’ve racked up while writing these 100 posts.
we feel the sunday blues in a big way. and we know why: not only do we just not love having to work every day, we know that we’re in especially high pressure, stressful, occasionally soul-sucking jobs. but we didn’t just default into these golden handcuffs of ours, and we don’t stay in our jobs because we lack imagination. our choice to stay put in unsustainable jobs is a clear-eyed decision we’ve made, based on considering all of our options and deciding what’s most important to us. the most important thing? getting to our exit date as soon as we possibly can.
you know we love a good object lesson. recently we had one inexplicable morning when the fire just would. not. light. those days are a reminder that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. the answer: add kindling. the point of the kindling is not only to get us past those obstacles, and to get the fire going a little, but to get those flames to start spreading — and spreading fast.
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.
this weekend we visited mono lake, an ancient and super salty lake. all that salt means that swimmers in the lake float easily. which got us thinking: it’s easy to think that swimming is swimming, but it’s not. we can make swimming hard for ourselves or easy for ourselves, and the same goes for our finances.
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.
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.
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.
happy weekend, friends. just a quick post today to share that we’ve got a feature this weekend on canadian budget binder. cbb features bloggers every weekend in the “making a difference series,” and this weekend it’s our turn. thanks, cbb! hop on over to canadian budget binder to […]
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 […]
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.
for years, we lived in one of the largest cities in the west, and had a very different lifestyle. a lifestyle we enjoyed. a lot. but which we knew wouldn’t be sustainable long-term, if we wanted to retire early. you already know how this story ends: we left the city for the small town, in part to fuel our early retirement aspirations.
Today we’re sending the love to those who inspire us. Happy Friday!
it’s natural to be future-focused, when you’re spending a lot of your mental energy planning for something in the future. the only problem: the future is never guaranteed.
today we’re sharing the story of some very, very bad money decisions we made once upon a time. some very bad money decisions that we couldn’t be happier about.
bloggers working toward early retirement love to ponder the big questions: how will we spend our time once we’re no longer shackled to jobs we don’t love? what else will we do for fulfillment? where all will we travel? how long do we need our money to last? […]
people in the pf world talk a lot about the power of compounding over time, and we want to talk about how this power has been made evident to us most of all: in our incomes.
we started this blog because we crave that connection with other folks who are doing what we’re doing. what we didn’t expect is how much blogging would change our finances, and our hearts.
we have told some people our early retirement plan, but not others, and sometimes we feel like it’s exhausting living this double life, trying to keep straight who we’ve told and not told. it’s like trying to keep straight an elaborate lie.
it often feels like the folks touting the frugal lifestyle are themselves naturally frugal. but what if you’re not naturally frugal? is there hope for you?
in planning for our early retirement, we often think about the question of whether the best decision on paper is also the best decision for our souls, or whether the two might be different.
something that’s super important to us is not just to save money for our retirement goals, but to conserve resources as well. fortunately, saving money and conserving resources can easily go together, and we’ve put together this list of the best ways we are achieving both.
fervent finance tapped us with a liebster award (thanks!) and asked us to answer some questions. here goes…
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?
some of the ways we’ve saved what is by any measure a lot of money. not enough to retire yet, even at the modest level we’re shooting for, but still objectively a lot.
one of our favorite personal finance sites keeps a running tally of bloggers’ net worths. while we love seeing how others are doing, we don’t share our numbers, and we have a few good reasons why we don’t.
we feel strongly that we should all stop talking about how busy we are. that words have the power to shape how we think. but even if we stop saying how exhausted we feel, we’re still exhausted. there’s no denying this.
we advocate taking a fanatical approach to banking airline miles. most airlines require five coast-to-coast roundtrips to earn a free domestic ticket. if you take those trips on different airlines, they add up to essentially nothing. it’s only by concentrating your travel on one airline that you get the benefit.
we realized that in order to earn that money, we had to restrict travel for work, which restricted how much we could commit to projects, which restricted our upward mobility and earning potential.
if we really cared about achieving a lot in our jobs, wouldn’t we want to dress as nicely as possible? wouldn’t we want to look slick and pulled together all the time? instead, the casual world is the better fit for us.
it helps to think about your values. what’s important to you? how do you want to spend your days? what do you want your legacy to be? let the answers to those big questions drive your life decisions.
like in the allegory of the cave, we used to see the shadows like everyone else, this illusion that work and earning and buying and accumulating are the only option. now we’ve seen that we can choose a different path for our future. except, for now, work is still our reality.