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The other day I came across a blog post by She Picks Up Pennies, inspired by Our Next Life and Think Save Retire about their respective paths to financial independence and what they plan to do when they get there. The conversation started 3 years ago, so as per usual, I’m inappropriately late to the party. But, since that’s never stopped me before, today I’m sharing what I plan to do with my life, once we’ve reached financial independence and retire from work we “have” to do.
I’m going to be a full-time writer (and blogger)
I will travel more.
Slow travel, I think it’s called. Maybe rent a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario for the summer, a home in Palm Springs for the winter or an RV adventure across the US. The key ingredient to that plan is having my husband and dogs with me. If I have my little fam jam, I’m pretty much good to go anywhere (as long as it’s not cold).
I will foster more rescue dogs
This might hamper the slow travel idea, but what I’d really love to do is always have one extra furry butt in the house, en route to their forever home. As you might know, rescue dogs, particularly the senior ones, hold a very VERY big place in my heart. Right now we don’t have the best set up for a 3rd pooch, but retirement would probably mean a new living arrangement with more space and yard for everyone.
We’ll probably leave the SF Bay Area
You are probably aware that next to NYC, Silicon Valley is the most expensive place to live in the US. Starter home (read: teardowns) start in the million dollar range and scale up quickly if you’re looking for something that’s actually livable. Personally, I could leave the Valley sooner than retirement, but my husband just isn’t having it.
I’m still going to workout everyday
I’m not someone who loves to workout, but I am someone who loves having had worked out. I don’t see that changing, and I don’t even see myself working out more than I do now. I may be more adventurous with my workouts (or I could just be fooling myself). A list of international marathons sounds interesting (in theory) or maybe another fitness competition?
I’ll never stop learning
I’m not suggesting I’d go back to formal education (2 degrees I don’t really use are enough), but I’d never stop learning about things that interest me. This is probably the main reason why I’d never get bored in retirement. I’m so curious about certain topics -> spirituality, health and fitness, creativity, online business, gardening, cooking, meditation, yoga, personal development, decision-making… the list goes on. I’d never stop learning, connecting with like-minded people and expanding my worldview. Curiosity is embedded in my DNA and I’m so grateful for it.
So, What Exactly is my Plan to Retire Early?
I would love to tell you that we have our entire retirement strategy mapped out in a sexy excel sheet, but that would be far from the truth. Right now, we’re fortunate enough to live off my husband’s salary alone, which means we can bank his annual bonus and everything I make consulting. Our strategy is very simple – low-cost index funds (mostly VTSAX, but we have a few others including a target date fund, some REITs, and a few other index funds). We have almost nothing in bonds. We also have 100% equity in my husband’s side business which throws off a healthy six-figure annual profit, my blogs (which make $0 money right now) and some shares in a privately owned tech company.
Our nest egg isn’t enough to retire on yet (or at least, the way we’d like to). To put our current position in perspective, we could retire like kings in a 3rd world country tomorrow, but if we decided to stay in Silicon Valley, we could be penniless within 15 to 20 years if we both quit working right now. So while we’re in a good position financially, we lack the benefit of geographic sustainability.
But I would consider us quasi/almost retired at this point
So when will we retire for good?
What would I tell anyone else looking to retire early?
- Live beneath your means. While we both have decent salaries and can afford to live in an expensive area, we’re also mindful of spending and acquiring. My financial wisdom continues to grow and evolve, but what I know for sure is that no matter how much you make, if your spending habits are beyond your means, you’ll never have the choice to retire, early or not.
- Find work you can at least like to do. I took this as a platitude for a long time, but only now I see the true benefits of finding interesting work. And remember, if you hate your job now, don’t assume it’s the work. It could be that you’re not cut out for sitting in an office building 40 hours a week (like me) or that your boss is just an a-hole and you would be happier elsewhere. Either way, make the effort to find work you don’t hate. It will make your life way more enjoyable and less sucky.
- Find a partner that shares your values. It took me a while to get my husband on board with the pursuit of FIRE, mostly because (I believe) it brought up feelings of deprivation for him that triggers experiences from his past. But when I finally got him to “see the light of FIRE”, he was hooked and it changed the way we looked at everything.