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 and Mark Bunge, the couple behind the blog, check out About Us, or read up on the Early Retirement Plan that let us make our career exit when I (Tanja) was 38 and Mark was 41.
Our Next Life is a place where I spark thought and discussion, and that often means looking hard at the numbers and money, but then delving deeply into the aspects of early retirement that aren’t strictly financial — what we dream about in retirement, how we’ll define ourselves post-career, how we’ll be healthier after ditching the job stress (and what we’ll do for health care!), what we might actually miss about work, the new anxiety that might arise when there’s no steady paycheck coming in — the stickier issues that sometimes get overlooked while plotting out retirement income or savings rates.
Our Next Life includes hundreds of posts, so below are shortcuts to some of the best posts by category, along with other places ONL has been featured. Enjoy!
Media Features and Awards
- Plutus Awards 2017 winner for best financial independence/FIRE blog
- MONEY Magazine (Also on MSN, Real Simple, and more)
- MarketWatch (and another piece)
- Syndicated columnist for MarketWatch — here, here and many more
- So Money with Farnoosh Torabi podcast
- BiggerPockets Money podcast
- Mad Fientist podcast
- Afford Anything podcast
- Rockstar Finance best money blogs and best early retirement blogs
- Bloomberg Infomoney, Treehugger (and again), Buzzfeed, Cait Flanders, Workforce Magazine, and more
- Four-time Plutus Awards finalist — 2015 (best retirement blog), 2016 (best financial independence blog) and 2017 (blog of the year and best FIRE blog)
- Lots more podcast features! Choose FI, Honest Money Conversations, Mo’ Money podcast, Marriage, Kids and Money, FIRE Drill podcast, Do You Even Blog? and a whole bunch more!
Our Overall Financial Approach
We committed several years ago to quitting at the end of 2017, whether or not we reached the magic number we had in mind. Fortunately, we blew through that number, and we retired at our stretch goal! We’re both allergic to budgets, but had great success with a pay-yourself-first strategy that we elevated to an art form — that is, we’re super good at hiding money from ourselves before we can think to spend it, a great tactic if you’re like us and struggle to save regularly. And we’ve done a lot of thinking about how we can be flexible once we do retire, fitting our lifestyle to whatever funds we’ll have available to us.
- The Full Financial Breakdown at Early Retirement
- Don’t Get Discouraged by Slow Initial Progress // A Blast from My Financial Past
- Our Full Financial Plan and Philosophy
- Waking Up in a Paid-Off House // A Farewell to Our Mortgage
- The Simple Math of Lifestyle Stagnation, the Biggest Secret of Our Success
- Our Big Epiphany: We Will Earn Money in Retirement
- How We’ll Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Budget // Finances in Retirement
- What’s Our Money Really For? // There’s More to Life Than Future Goals
- How We Pay Ourselves First // Advice for Money-Conscious Non-Budgeters
Health Care for Early Retirees
Something we’re suuuuper focused on is staying healthy and living long, active lives. That means ensuring we always have access to high-quality health care that doesn’t destroy our budget. Unfortunately, that’s not a given in our current atmosphere of political health care uncertainty, but I’ve stayed on top of the twists and turns in the health care debate, and have covered it extensively.
- Signing Up for ACA/Obamacare Health Insurance for Early Retirement
- What We Know — and Still Don’t Know — About Early Retirement Health Care
- Health Isn’t Something You Can Plug Into a Spreadsheet
- Think Health Care, Not Just Taxes and Weather, When Deciding Where to Retire
- Staring Into the Early Retirement Health Care Abyss
- Death and Divorce and Unhappiness, Oh My! Might Early Retirement Actually Be Bad for Us?!
- What the Election and a Trump Presidency Mean for Early Retirement
- Optimizing Our Retirement Income // ACA and Taxes Vs Actual Cashflow
- The Power of a Low Income in Early Retirement
- Planning for Health Care in Early Retirement
A Two-Phased Retirement Approach
While a lot of folks recommend using your tax-advantaged savings well before reaching traditional retirement age, I advocate thinking of early retirement as an entirely different financial phase, one which you might choose to live more cheaply to keep more money in place for later. Here’s more about our approach and why we feel so strongly about it.
- How We Calculated Our Numbers for Each Phase of Early Retirement
- The Comfort of a Big Nest Egg… for Later
- How We Calculated Our “Enough” Number for Early Retirement
- Don’t Forget About Your Later Years // Planning for Early AND Traditional Retirement
- Protect Your Early Retirement From Sequence of Returns Risk
- Minimizing Early Withdrawals in Early Retirement // Hang On to As Much As You Can for Later
- The Case for Conservative Early Retirement Investment Projections
Financial Independence Blog Community
We’re huge fans of the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) blog community, and feel lucky to be a part of it. Sometimes that means writing about blogging, building community or fighting back against those who don’t believe that what so many of us are doing is truly possible. And sometimes it means calling out our community when we’re not collectively being completely transparent with readers.
- What FIRE Bloggers Owe Readers // A Blogging Manifesto
- Don’t Listen to Us // Blogs Don’t Tell the Full FI Story
- The Power of Community, at #FinCon17 — and Everywhere Else
- Creating Your Community // #FinCon16 Recap
- Financial Independence, Fight Club and the Mindless Consumer Zombie Narrative
- A Thought Experiment for the Retirement Police // Where’s the Line on Retirement?
- Not Fostering Comparison // Are We the Joneses?
- The Survey Results Are In! All About Our Next Life (and FIRE Blog) Readers
- How Blogging Has Sped Our Progress to Financial Independence
- Reconciling Our Online Selves and Real Life
Surviving Work En Route to Early Retirement
Though early retirement is the starting line, not the goal post, it still takes most of us many years to be able to walk away from traditional work. We thought a lot about how to get through those working years.
- The Importance of Pacing Yourself on the Road to Financial Independence
- Why We’re Not Going to Complain About Work Anymore
- How to Use Your FI Freedom to Agitate for Others at Work
- 2017: The Year of “No”
- Conquering Impatience on the Road to Financial Independence
- To Care or Not To Care // The Work Mindset As Retirement Nears
Transitioning to Retirement
I write a lot about what it means day-to-day, and for our sense of self, now that we no longer have careers that define us. We definitely had careers that you could call “high powered” — consulting for powerful people, fancy titles, lots of travel, more pay than we required. While that came with a lot of stress that we eagerly left behind, I also wondered if we’d feel an unanticipated void when we quit.
- We Retired Early! // Our Next Life Begins
- Who Left These Kids In Charge?! // Adapting to Life With No Structure
- Replicate What You’re Great At in Early Retirement
- Retiring Early in the Face of Fear
- Don’t Stop at One Audacious Goal // After FI, What’s Your Next One?
- When We’re No Longer “Important” // Ego, Invisibility and Early Retirement
- How to Define Ourselves in Retirement // Creating a New Vision of Self Worth
- Making Sure Our Retirement Is a Long and Healthy One // Planning for Longevity
- The End of the Perks // Preparing to Say Goodbye to the Upside of Work
- Consider a Side Hustle Year to Begin Early Retirement
What We Dream About for Retirement
Like most aspiring retirees, we spent a lot of time during our planning and saving years reflecting on what we wanted our lives to be like after we ditched the careers, what we think of as “our next life” (a next life that we’re now living). We imagined a lot of time to travel, get outdoors in our mountain town, and discover what our true life’s purpose is — and all of that has proven to be true!
- Our Changing Definition of Early Retirement and the Power of the Freedom to Fail
- The Unstructured Early Retirement Dress Rehearsal
- What Do You Want Your Tombstone to Say? Defining Our Purpose
- Crafting a Life That Keeps the Stoke High
- Craving the Open Road // Our Early Retirement Travel Vision
- Living Simply with Plenty of Stuff // Why We Never Plan to Downsize Radically
- Should You Move to Retire? // Why We Moved to a Small Town
Questioning Social Norms
I love thinking not just about early retirement, but social norms in general. Obviously retiring early is a big diversion from “normal,” so for those of us who are already accustomed to thinking differently, why stop there?
- Of Boosts and Bootstraps // One Story, Two Ways
- How Subsidies Make Early Retirement Possible, Even Without Obamacare
- A Love Letter to the Atypical, Unfrugal Early Retirees
- Why “Financial Freedom” Means Something Different to Me
- Go Beyond Gratitude // With Great Wealth Comes Great Responsibility
- The Use It Up Challenge, and Our Nothing New Year
- The Road Less Traveled Challenge
- Why Married Early Retirees Should See Our Marriages As Our Most Important Investments
And sometimes I just like to tell a good story about things that have shaped our lives, or experiences that are too powerful not to share.
- This Is Not My Beautiful House // This Is Not My Beautiful Wife
- The Best Bad Money Decision We Ever Made // The History of Us
- The Flight Attendant Who Blew Our Minds // Life Lessons at 30,000 Feet
- Our Sliding Doors Weekend // The Expensive Future That Could Have Been
- Why The Urgency // Why We’re In Such a Big Hurry to Retire Early
- None of This Feels Real // On Big Numbers and Abstract Concepts
Guest Posts on Blogs We Love
Our Next Life posts from around the blog community.
- The Woods, Mountains and Happiness Within (guest post at Cait Flanders)
- Making the Most of Missed Opportunities (guest post at Northern Expenditure)
- Breaking the Family and Money Taboo (guest post at Think Save Retire)
- Living Simply Equals Living By Design (guest post at the Frugal Cottage)
- Dirtbag Dreams // Reaching the Summit (guest post at Eat the Financial Elephant)
- FIRE Advice for Noobs (guest post at From Frugal to Free)
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