Achieving The Two Spouse Early Retirement Household

Do you want to retire early with your spouse? If so, this post will discuss achieving the two spouse early retirement household versus only one spouse retiring early. After all, we often call one spouse retiring early as being a stay at home parent.

For reference, I retired in 2012 at the age of 34. My wife then retired three years later at age 34 in 2015. We've been a two spouse early retirement household since.

However, I do consider myself a fake retiree since I continue to write online and published a new personal finance book. I spend around 20 hours a week staying mentally active with my work on Financial Samurai. To me, 20 hours of stimulating work a week is the ideal retirement lifestyle.

Retiring Early As A Couple Is Ideal

In my post about reflecting on five years of early retirement, I mentioned that having my wife join me two years later was an import shift that made the early retirement lifestyle much easier. 

This may sound strange since being able to do nothing all day would seem easy enough. But the reality is, early retirement isn't very meaningful if you have nobody to spend it with. This post talks about becoming a two spouse early retirement household.

As an early retiree, it takes time to find your people. The vast majority of your friends will be at work all day, every day. Therefore, during the first six months you're probably going to feel a little lost as I did. Only after about a year do you finally start feeling a little more comfortable with not working as you adjust to a new routine and make new friends out of necessity.

When my wife finally negotiated her severance package (she had the #1 coach by her side and got a juicy one!), I really started getting in a great groove. Now I always had someone to walk in the park with before grabbing some lunch. Instead of exploring Europe solo, I could now explore Asia with her for a month at a time.

As an extrovert, life became much better when she was always around. At the same time, it's important to have our own friends and space.

How To Retire Early As A Married Couple

Retiring before receiving Social Security, a pension, or having penalty-free access to a 401k or IRA is risky if your expense coverage ratio or passive income is insufficient. Risk is why I didn't have my wife negotiate her severance the same year as I did in 2012. 

I wanted to first test the waters before suggesting to her it was OK to jump in. It's the exact same reason why I recommend everybody work on their entrepreneurial side hustle while working before taking the leap of faith.

We've already discussed strategies on how to convince your spouse to work longer so you can retire earlier to live the good life. Some people found the article to be funny, while other hard-charging spouses found it to be offensive. Whichever one you believe, the fact of the matter is that having a working spouse to pay the bills is a great way for you not to work.

Now I'd like to share some strategies on how both of you can prudently retire early. The goal of these steps is to help minimize doubt, eradicate resentment, and maximize harmony with each other.

1. Set a target age to depart. 

The key to achieving a two spouse early retirement household is to have a target date or target age. Once you circle a date in the calendar, you will do everything you can to prepare beforehand. I left Corporate America at age 34.5 because I didn't like what I did anymore. But my target date for early retirement when I was 32 was actually June 15, 2017 on my 40th birthday!

Setting a target age to do something is important because while we can never buy one more minute of life, we can do our best to achieve as much financial prosperity as possible by a certain age. Once we hit that age, it's time to move forward.

Because my spouse is three years younger than I, we agreed that after she turned 34, she too, if she wanted, could also retire. Since we both believe in equality, there was no argument with this logic.

Related: Shoot To Retire By A Certain Age, Not When You Achieve A Financial Target

2. Set a income replication target.

Not only did we agree on an age target, we also agreed on replicating my day job base salary with my online endeavors before she could join me, whichever came first. Given that I was often bored in early retirement, this financial target gave me the incentive to keep on hustling.

After two years and three months of grinding, I finally replicated my monthly day job salary. After six months of consistently achieving this target, she initiated severance negotiation proceedings in September 2014.

The other financial target we considered was achieving a $200,000 a year passive income stream before she could leave. In the end, we decided the target would take too long to achieve. Good thing we passed, because I only achieved the $200,000 target at the end of 2016, a full two years after she left.

Finally, instead of an income target, you guys can also consider a net worth target to achieve before both of you leave the workforce. My recommended net worth target is 20X gross household income. Get to 20X your average income at ANY age, and you are financially independent and can retire if you want.

Net worth targets by age or work experience

3. Go on a financial fast.

It wasn't enough for me to replicate my day job income through my entrepreneurial activities. She too had to reach some achievement goals as well. We decided she needed to raise her savings rate after maxing out her 401k from 25% to 40% in the second to last year (age 33), and then to 50% in the final year (age 34). The logic was to simulate a lifestyle in which we had way less than she/we were used to.

An early retirement household in the making should practice going on a financial fast before making a big purchase or a big life change. For example, if you know it will cost $1,000 a month more if you buy a particular home, then it's a good idea to try and live on $1,000 less for at least six months before you buy that home. If you do this first, you should feel zero burden on your lifestyle.

401k by age savings potential guide
401k by age savings potential

4. Identify specific things to do post retirement.

It's nice for both of you to have a ton of time together. But after a while, you may start getting annoyed with each other if you're both not doing something meaningful. Therefore, it's important to identify various things your spouse may like to do after retiring.

We didn't initiate this step beforehand and suffered because of it. When my wife retired, she did what many normal people do and took it easy. Me, on the other hand, stepped it UP a notch because I now felt MORE pressure to save and earn even more since we were now both jobless!

Instead of getting up by 6am every morning to write, I frequently got up between 4am – 5am to do more work. As a man, it almost seems like I have this embedded desire to provide.

After a couple months of me getting up before 5 am, and she getting up after 9 am, envy and resentment on my part welled to the surface. Damn, she was having such a nice life while I was slaving away! So unfair. Wah. After some frank discussion, instead of sleeping in with her, we decided to divide up the responsibilities of our business. She could take the “night shift” and I would take the “morning shift.” Now all is good.

Please have this frank discussion with your spouse about things to do after s/he retires early. Learn from my mistakes.

5. Create financial buffers for your financial buffers.

Early retirement is relatively easy when you have a working spouse. Before the 1970s, we didn't consider a non-working spouse retired because one spouse took care of the household while the other worked was the norm. Despite all the social progress, still few men want to be known as a stay at home spouse, hence the self-proclamation of being an early retiree.

Without a spouse's reliable paycheck and subsidized healthcare plan, early retirement is scarier. We, for example, pay $1,400 a month for health insurance despite being in great health. It's our responsibility to subsidize the poor and less healthy. Still, this expense is worrisome if healthcare costs are not contained.

Creating financial buffers for your financial buffers means always having an income backup plan. For example, if my online income were to ever disappear, we will rely on rental income, real estate crowdfunding income, stock dividend income, and bond income to survive.

If all of those income streams die, then I will rely on tennis teaching income and personal finance consulting income. If those income streams disappear, I'll take on financial technology consulting projects billing no more than 25 hours a week to save the retirement lifestyle. As a last resort I'd go back to work full time.

An early retirement household always has backups for its backups.

6. Conduct regular financial checkups.

Knowing that your finances are strong is KEY to minimizing early retirement stress and elongating the early retirement lifestyle together. At least once a month, go over all income and expenses to make sure you've got positive cash flow. Then conduct a net worth audit to make sure your asset allocation is appropriate. Finally, push each other to keep on saving and investing.

The reason why so many people overestimate how much they need in retirement is because they forget that once they retire, they no longer need to save for retirement. However, I recommend continuing to save for the future once you've retired because it feels so damn good! You'll feel like you're playing with the house's money every single day you aren't drawing down principal.

My wife and I treat early retirement almost like a game. We're trying to run up the score (net worth) as much as possible while making sure we're having a good time. Once the pandemic hit, I focused on trying to make more money online again since there was less fun things to do. This way, when I re-retire, we'll have more passive income.

Personal Capital Investment Asset Allocation Tool - Two Spouse Early Retirement Household
Track your investments like the NSA

Related: The Fear Of Running Out Of Money In Retirement Is Overblown 

Early Retirement Household Dreaming

Having a best friend to explore the world, raise a family, or work on a business is a dream come true. That said, it's important to set stretch goals to ensure you both have no regrets.

My wife felt she needed to advance as far as she wanted to go in her career before retiring early. She accomplished this by getting one last promotion a year before she left. She then looked at the person's job one level higher above her and decided it was not something she wanted to do. Rather, she preferred helping me grow our business.

Since 2012 we've done as much traveling as we wanted. I think we're up to 85 countries. Now we're focused on raising a family as two stay at home parents. Building a harmonious relationship takes work. But once you guys thoroughly understand each other's objective, a two spouse early retirement household can be a reality.

Please note that I decided to come out of early retirement once the pandemic began. My thought process was that if I'm going to stay safe and locked down, then I might as well spend more time trying to make money online.

I wrote a new bestselling book entitled, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. I'm very proud of this achievement since the pandemic has been brutal for parents of young children!

Once the year is done, I plan to go back to early retirement once more.

Related posts about retiring early with your partner:

How To Make Your Spouse Work Longer So You Can Retire Earlier

If You Love Your Spouse, You'd Make Them A Millionaire

You Will Never Be Free Unless Your Loved Ones Are Also Free

Retire Earlier With Real Estate Passive Income

Real estate is my favorite way to achieving financial freedom because it is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. Stocks are fine, but stock yields are low and stocks are much more volatile. 

The combination of rising rents and rising real estate prices builds tremendous wealth over the long term. Meanwhile, there are more ways to invest in areas of the country where valuations are lower and net rental yields are higher thanks to crowdfunding. 

Best Private Real Estate Investing Platforms

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 400,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. These cities also have higher growth potential due to job growth and demographic trends. 

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.

Fundrise

I've personally invested $810,000 in private real estate crowdfunding across 18 projects to take advantage of lower valuations in the heartland of America. My real estate investments account for roughly 50% of my current passive income of ~$380,000. 

Wealth Building Recommendation

To help you achieve the two spouse early retirement household, sign up for Empower. Empower is the web's #1 free wealth management tool. In addition to better money oversight, you can run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely check to see how your finances are shaping up as it's free.

Our early retirement household has been using Empower since 2012. We've seen our net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Retirement Planning Calculator

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About The Author

101 thoughts on “Achieving The Two Spouse Early Retirement Household”

  1. Hi Sam, love the site. I retired early at 46. Sold my business. We sound a lot alike. One of the reasons for retiring was to travel with my daughter to support her junior tennis development on the ITF circuit. Love being her hitting partner during tournaments. About 6 months in now and I am fairly happy with my decision. Was not a huge transition since I did not work much when I had my business. I love playing all sports ( baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, volleyball etc ) and tend to fill my time with these activities. Wife stopped working about 15 years ago once our business took off. We golf a lot together. Life is a dream not worrying about business related matters. Having said that I do miss some of the daily interactions with business people. My biggest problem/stress is my investments. I have over 20M but I cannot seem to sleep easy as I am constantly worried about my returns. Not worried about the rate so much as “will there be enough to live on”. A year before I decided to sell we did a 6 month financial fast to see what we would need monthly to live on. Came out to 15k ( we have no mortgage or car payments ). We do have both kids in private school. Tennis takes up a lot of the budget though ( 4k per month ). Other kid plays every sport there is but more at a local house level so not much travel. How do you deal with the anxiety of getting enough returns to meet your family needs? Sometimes I wonder if the stress of that is more than the stress of running a business

    1. I would take $20 million and multiply it by the risk-free rate. That’s 2% on the 10-year or 2.4% with an online savings account now, which is interesting how it’s higher.

      The income equates to $400,000 – $480,000 a year with zero to minimal risk. If you’re only living off $15K X 12 = $180K, $20 million should be enough!

      Enjoy life!

  2. Maybe I am missing something, but how do you call yourself retired when you or your wife are up before the dawn and/or working into the evening? Maybe a better term would be semi-retired?

    I retired last year at 53. Wife has not worked for $ in over 24 years. No pension and no working in any capacity – not now and no plans to even again. Extensive travel with wife and living the dream – doing what we want, where we want, how we want and when we went. Annual spending of several hundred thousand dollars financed entirely from invested assets. This is what I envisioned when thinking about “retired”.

    You do a great service with your blog. I enjoy reading your posts. My gripe is only with characterizing what you do as retired.

    1. I sometimes call myself retired because I left Corporate America in 2012 after negotiating a severance. I haven’t been back to work for anybody since then. My wife negotiated a severance at the end of 2014 and hasn’t worked for anybody since then either.

      We live off 100% off our passive income streams, which is currently over $200,000 a year.

      Our goal in retirement is to always stay active and do what we love. We love to travel and write, so that’s what we’ve done aggressively every year since. Early retirement is so fun we can’t really believe our luck.

      By pursuing our interests, we’ve been able to generate more from our writing than the passive income we spent 18 years building. It feels like we’re playing with the houses money since we’re having a lot of fun writing and connecting with folks. As a result, we just save and invest everything beyond our passive income.

      When we go to parent meetups, we sometimes say we are stay at home parents. When I go to a fintech meetup, I sometimes say I’m an entrepreneur. This is the beauty of not having to work for a living. You can do, say, and classify whatever you want because it doesn’t matter.

      Congrats on your retirement! Try not to do too much! :)

      Related: Early Retirement Five Years Later: Reflections on Life After Work

      1. People like you and your commenters lead others to believe (unrealistically) that this is so easily achievable. When you’re making money off of other people, yeah, sure, no problem. Investment bankers do it all the time by taking funds in the form.of extravagant fees for their perceived financial market knowledge. It is all a scam and I stay as far away from people like you as possible. Especially guys who retire before the wives. Boy.. She was sure desperate to get married. The numbers here just don’t add up.

    2. GirlOnAMission

      Hi Mike G.,
      Hopefully you see this as I know it’s an old post. Can you please elaborate on what your invested assets are? My husband and I come from lower middle class families and have been teaching ourselves to the best of our abilities (and incomes) on what to invest in. We both have our 401s maxed and some funds in stocks for general money markets and specific companies. We have some extra cash to invest (not much as we just had our first child!) and are struggling on where it would be best used (bonds, stocks, save it towards an investment property…?) We always enjoy hearing/learning the details of successful individuals! Thank you!

  3. I don’t think my girlfriend will ever want to FIRE because the work she does is so vital and gives her so much life. I do think that she could pull back a little if I got us to the financial position where we could forego work. That’s my current aim. Make it possible and then see what we want.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences Sam. It’s great to learn from someone who has already been there, done that. I’m glad you mentioned the importance of both partners having some fulfilling stretch goals to work on. I see how this could make a big impact and is something I’ll be thinking carefully about. Thanks again!

  5. A couple of comments:
    1) We are on track for this, despite having made normal upper-middle class incomes b/c I started saving at 17!
    2) I’m a woman, and I get a kick out of saying I retired early (although I do work part-time from home) rather than saying I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have three little kids, so my life involves a lot of labor- it’s just that much of it is unpaid. I started saying I “retired early” because I handle all the finances and honestly, me being full-time vs. part-time would be a drop in the bucket at this point. Our investments make us more than we make at our day jobs. As an engineer, I would be expected to travel to clients, put in 40+ hrs a week, etc, if I were full-time. As it is, my work is strictly limited to what I can do on my computer from home, a few hours a week (no commute, part-time preschool/daycare rather than full-time, etc). I’m starting to think I won’t ever go back full-time, even when all the kids are in school. The return just isn’t worth the cost. I’ll find something else to do with my time (homeschool, volunteer, etc).
    3) I’m clear on planning for retirement. What gets me is how to plan for college costs since it’s such a huge unknown…do you just pick an arbitrary number and shoot for that? Right now I’m planning to save 100k per kid and call it a day. How do you factor that into early retirement? I’m not anticipating any financial aid b/c even if we were both retired and not earning income…our net worth is too high to expect financial aid. We both went to state schools/military academies, so we graduated debt-free. I’m willing to save enough to pay for state school for each kid, the question is how much to save. I think many people just pay for it out of their current salary, so if you were looking to retire before your kids hit college (a possibility for us), you would have to save ahead of time.

  6. I called myself “early retired” when I quit working while my wife was still working. She originally planned to quit within 6 months of my quit time, but they kept offering her more and more $$ for and less responsibility and fewer hours, so she stuck it out 2 years longer than expected. We viewed her working as a temporary thing and my status as “retired” doesn’t depend on what my wife does. I am my own person after all :)

    2 years is a long time to be temporarily working but we made the most of it. Year one came with an extra 5 weeks paid sabbatical (on top of unlimited family/sick leave and 6 weeks paid vacation/holidays). Year two came with an extra 12 weeks paid sabbatical. Her last six months consisted of working remotely for just 20 hours per week while still getting paid full time. Pretty killer set up and too good to just straight out quit. Until she decided she was done and she left work for good.

    In the end, “stay at home parent” or “early retired” is just a label. When I didn’t feel like engaging in conversation with someone, I’d let them think I was a stay at home dad. It is true after all :)

  7. A few comments.

    1) Thanks for this article. As always, a great combination of mindset and pragmatic tips. Speaking of mindset…

    2) “We can call ourselves whatever we want.” Boom! For me, I vastly prefer “Stay At Home Dad,” but a label is simply thatl and nothing more….we are not cans of soup.

    3) I think one’s mindset could have a lot to do with their FIRE age. I ripped the cord at 52.5, and my wife still works. I’m more comfortable with doing very little than you most likely would. On the other hand, I busted it out for nearly two decades longer than you did…in definitive middle management “grinder” jobs — 6 day weeks, long days, always on electronics, politics up the arse….yadda yadda yadda wah wah wah get your box of tissues but not really!

    4) My wife is eight years younger….we initially settled on a plan like yours, i.e., she can retire when she its 52. But honestly, she can go at any time for reasons I won’t disclose here because my attempted stealth gravatar is not stealthy enough. We’d just need to make some different choices. Health insurance is definitely the biggest concern. She has a high deductible plan that’s quite good. And I only just “discovered” her HSA, which we had been using incorrectly. I’d love to build that up to a still paltry 25K minimum and then not touch it for as long as possible.

    5) As others have commented, the 20X average gross salary is hard for some of us to grok. With my wife making a nice base, plus bonus, plus options we cash out annually (high quality ‘problems!’), 20X that total AGI is astronomical. Unless I’m dragged off a United flight with me belly hanging out, I have a hard time seeing how we get to that. Therefore I’d rather play the manipulation game and use a multiple of spending. And it’s precisely because we CAN manipulate it – life is all about choices. Just one example: when the day comes that neither of us are participating in the tech economy, we’ll look long and hard at leaving our area – with its beautiful weather and great people but high taxes, decaying BART-tastic infrastructure and sub-optimal public education system. Because our house is paid off, we can likely extract 75% to 80% of the selling price after improvements, selling costs, taxes, etc.

    6) Life is good.

    1. Man, if I worked until 52.5, I would DEFINITELY not be doing as much writing and hustling now. I’d probably just coach HS tennis and sleep in! Well done grinding for so long. Very admirable. I wanted to go for 5.5 years until age 40, but couldn’t make it. The severance was also too juicy to deny.

      With a paid off house, you are living golden.

  8. Age: late 40’s
    Income: $2M+
    Networth: ~$18M

    Saying I need to continue to work to accumulate another $22M seems pretty harsh. Personally thinking about chucking it in next year, before 50. This ain’t no dress rehearsal, and can’t take it with you..

    1. Actually, that came across as overly critical.. love the blog, and you give plenty of great advice. Context helps too. Annual expense rate is around $250k, as opposed to what you might expect with that income, hence the reason 20x’s income is overkill. Bigger challenge/frustration for me is taxes. Effective tax rate is 47%, being a resident of one of those over-taxed east coast states. Makes it de-motivating to keep slugging it out to only keep around 50 cents on the dollar. Love articles where you talk about tax strategy. Also followed your lead into RealtyShares DME. Let’s see how that works out.

      1. No worries. Congrats on your financial success. There’s a law of diminishing returns b/c your $2M is $1.1M after taxes, so you’re saving maybe $850,000 a year? Adding $850,000 a year to a $18M net worth is not bad at 4.7% growth, but doesn’t really make you feel the difference I suspect.

        Have you read these posts to help you with your decision?

        Shoot To Retire By A Certain Age, Not By A Certain Financial Figure

        Overcoming The One More Year Syndrome To Do Something New

        What is it that you do for a living? And finally, are you happy or any happier than when you had and made less? If not, time to move on.

        1. Work in your old industry, Financial Services, no surprise.. yes, have read all of your posts. I am generally happy, and do not look to derive my happiness from my job. That said, it comes with a degree of power, prestige, and perks e.g business class travel to nice places, nice hotels, tix to major sporting events, etc, which add to the allure. Flip side is stress, always being on call. On the whole I consider myself pretty lucky for what I have achieved, not going to an Ivy or born with the proverbial silver spoon. Worked very hard and sacrificed for 25 years. Of course there will always be trade offs.

          1. Cool. It’s funny you mention those things, b/c I thought I wouldn’t be able to do those things as much or as easily once I retired, but that didn’t turn out to be true.

            For example, we flew better than 1st class with friends to Indian Wells for the BNP Tennis Tournament last month, after deciding to go last minute. Sat in the front row for the semis and finals to see Roger Federer beat Jack Sock and Stan Wawrinka, and stayed in a nice suite close by. Then we decided to get a hit in after the finals and then dinner before flying home late Sunday evening. Since we didn’t have to go to work Monday, we felt very relaxed.

            The joy/desire for prestige goes downhill when you have all the freedom you want. It can be recreated by starting your own company and calling yourself CEO if that’s what you desire.

            If you’re in financial services, you need to engineer your layoff given all your years of experience. Getting ALL your deferred comp and severance is huge!

            I can guarantee you this: your life will feel no different once you hit $30M+ versus now.

            1. Of course you are right on all accounts Sam. Although twenty large would be nice. You are an entrepreneur and a hustler. Wish I had half your energy, drive, and skills. You are going to end up very wealthy Sam, no doubt!

  9. Dood, el Farbe

    Hi Sam, I’m wondering about that 20X gross income as a net worth target. Does it slide (up and down) for people at different income levels?

    Also, I’m not sure it’s the case that just because family A has $360K income, they have 3X more spending needs in retirement than would family B making $120K. (Assuming family A are early retirement savers, rather than living the entire lifestyle that $360K can afford them, I mean).

    For example, take the people with the current gross household incomes below:

    $60K = 1.2M (hmmm… might need a bit more?)
    $160K = 3.2M (would seem pretty solid, maybe a bit more to be safe)
    $260K = 5.2M (think many would be happy with this)
    $360K = 7.2M (good to go)
    $460 = 9.2M (does this family need so much more than the others, just because they once had high income?)

    1. What I found after all these years and speaking to probably thousands of people is that everybody’s budget and spending tend to accommodate their income. So yes, having close to a $10 million net worth for a couple making $500,000 a year is definitely something they should shoot for, and a level of net worth that will make them feel financially secure.

      I myself have run the gamut of earning four dollars an hour to making $40,000 a year to making $500,000 plus a year. At each stage I recorded my own thoughts and feelings in various posts and the multiple stays true regardless of income.

      I’m conservative bc there’s no rewind button. Goals are also meant to be hard to reach.

      1. Interesting. Most of the folks I know who retired early did so because their lifestyles stayed constant (below their means, so to speak) while income rose which allowed for higher savings amounts. Most would never have retired if they used the “20x their income” approach. Rathe,r they looked at their current and projected expenses and took some multiple of that. Most still found out later in life theyl had a lot more than they thoughtt they had needed when they agonized the retirement decision. Of course, many took some kind of work down the road as they they missed the commraderie, found out they really did not have many other interests, or maybe even found out that being aorund their spouse a lot was problematic. My feeling is that for as many pople as there are who underestimate what it takes to retire ,there are many who do the opposite and basically are afraid to take any risk. They often live in fear from all the articles that fill net about outliving your money.

      2. Dood, el Farbe

        “everybody’s budget and spending tend to accommodate their income. ”

        Thanks Sam, I certainly agree that this seems to be the general case. But in the weeks I’ve been reading all you’ve got to offer here (by the way – what an incredible and fantastic resource!), I’m also checking out the blogs of many of your commenters, and the comments they get on their own blog posts. It seems to me that there are many in the ER crowd who are very good at saving. Of course, there’s a lot of self-selection bias in this sample because I’m reading people who are your readers and their readers, so I recognize I’m getting a skewed picture.

        But I think my family is more typical of the folks I mention just above, and atypical of the many people you mention speaking to. We’re currently saving right at 71% of our gross overall, and 49% of gross is going into pre-income tax saving accounts (i.e., 42K to 401(k)s with me eligible for the 6K catchup, and I’m dumping 50% of my salary and all of my bonus into a deferred comp account).

        Using 2017 dollars, our household gross has quadrupled since 1995 when we married. We did move into a larger house in anticipation of our 4th child in 2002 (last payment on the 15-year mortgage due this July), but otherwise little has gone up with our income except our rate of savings, taxes (which I’m now substantially ameliorating via the salary/bonus deferrals; I realize I’m very fortunate to be able to utilize that plan), and food costs as our kids have grown. Larger vehicles to accommodate a family of 6 (SUV & minivan) are more expensive than the sedans we had as DINKS, which we average 11 years on. And we do take somewhat nicer vacations than we did in, say, 2002 ($8K nowadays for a week in an ocean-front house in the Keys for Spring Break vs. $1K for a week in a cabin in the Smokies back then).

        “I’m conservative bc there’s no rewind button. Goals are also meant to be hard to reach.”

        No argument here.

        1. Savings is actually the easy part. Just spend less and sacrifice more. Who can’t do that except for those who don’t want it bad enough.

          Making passive income, finding good investment ideas, optimizing your net worth… now that’s the hard stuff I want to tackle b/c income upside is unlimited. If there’s no difference in happiness by certain net worth or income levels, then you might as well have fun trying to get rich I say!

          Worst case, you can use your free time and extra money to help other people.

          Related: Life After Financial Independence

  10. 20x times salary? Interesting. Retired 24 years ago at age 39 (wife 37) with two kids (7 and 5) at less then 10x. We only needed about 15% of our gross income to live on even with kids. However, but we did not live fancy. Did a lot of travel pre-kids and a lot of US travel and maybe only a half a dozen international trips with kids, but once they were in junior high they were so busy with other stuff there was not much time for vacations.

    Every now and then wife or I would do a few weeks a year contract work that allowed deduction for medical insurance. After kids grew up and finished college wife decided she wanted to do a bit of part time work.

    The issues I dealt with when I retired early were learning that it was okay to actually take money out of savings and that market crashes would be temporary setbacks. Also, it was important to believe if TSHTF I/we could figure out a way to earn money. It was impossible not to do some “what-iffing” when getting together with friends who continued to work and have substantially larger portfolios. On the other hand I had time with my kids, time to spend visiting friends and relatives, time to try new things, and time to do a lot of adventure travel that I probably would never have done had I waited until 60-65. Two more years until Medicare—where did the time go??

    1. Yeah, I haven’t learned the part about taking money out of savings/drawing down principal yet. It feels like torture to me given my savings habits to get me to this point. I’m not even sure I use the income from my investments to live because I’ve been busy trying to create more income with my online endeavors as well as more investment income.

      I donno… I’m addicted to investing and enjoy the fun of trying to make more passive income.

      If you’re two years away from Medicare (congrats btw for early retirement and making it through so long!!), cost of living was much cheaper in the 1980s. Man that woulda been fun to buy up all the SF and Manhattan property then!

  11. Along the lines of “Financial Fasting” (great term, btw…) and “trial runs”…

    If both spouses are currently working, and you’re thinking about one of you quitting – simulate it. Not for 30 days, but for, like, 6 months at a minimum.

    How? Set up one spouse’s income to direct-deposit to a separate savings account, and just pretend it doesn’t exist. Go “cold turkey” from your 2 income lifestyle and live off the 1 income. Force yourself into it, while knowing if you’ve overreached? The money is still in a savings account. Safety net. (Don’t invest it or park it anywhere else just yet, just dump the paychecks to a savings account. This is a trial run.)

    My (now ex) and I did this in the year leading up to the point where we were going to start a family and have kids. We planned on her stopping work when a baby arrived, and at the time we were pretty sure she’d go back to work eventually (never happened) but we *weren’t* sure how prepared we were to live off just MY income.

    My income was about 3x what hers was, so it wasn’t THAT tough to tighten our belts and pretend her paychecks never came. We pooled up a ridiculous amount of savings during that year, and while we had to cut back on some of our financial jackassery we didn’t exactly go hungry. It was pretty easy, and a VERY “safe” way to trial run things.

    Highly recommend this approach. Easy to set up.

    1. Excellent recommendation. 6 month fast minimum or bust! Glad the finances worked out when the kids were born.

      I have a lot of friends, MBA types actually who said they would definitely go back to work after their child was born. Never did. Kinda puts in perspective what’s more important: kids or work you don’t love.

  12. I had a slightly different situation. My husband stayed at home to work on his online business while I continued to work in my job. He worked really hard and built his online business to a consistent 5 figure every month in less than 12 months, so I could finally leave my job to spend more time with our son at home.

    Now, I am working on my own online business as well, and hope I can help take some pressure off him as the sole breadwinner. We are not early retirees yet. Given how expensive Singapore is, being frugal is not enough. Building our assets and creating multiple streams of passive income will be one of our goals for the next few years.

    1. Sounds like a great plan! I really like the one spouse has a stable day job, and the other spouse has an entrepreneurial endeavor combo. Best of both worlds with huge upside potentially.

      Build your business large enough so both spouses can take advantage. I’m just focused on a lifestyle business b/c I want to keep headaches/responsibilities of others to a minimum.

  13. My spouse and I aren’t quite ready yet – college for our older boy starts in two years, the younger in (probably) thirty years, if he can stretch fifth grade that long.

    From a work standpoint, I have to say that getting to a point where I had relative financial independence was . . . not motivating, as in a sixty or eighty hour week looked much, much less appealing when the alternative was hanging with my family.

    Thanks again, Sam, for the motivation on your pages (and the how to!) on restarting my blog. I feel better now that I’m blogging again than I have in years. Or maybe that’s the wine?

    1. Dood, el Farbe

      “college for our older boy starts in two years, the younger in (probably) thirty years, if he can stretch fifth grade that long. ”

      Oh, my. I had to read that twice, and when I did I seriously burst out laughing.

    2. No problem John. Ah, the development mysteries of our little ones. I’m so excited to have a family and see what life brings!

      Thoughts on an ideal age gap between siblings? Sounds like your kids are 6 years apart?

  14. My wife became a stay at home mom after working less than one year. I often joke that she should start a blog about how she retired early.
    Of course this delays my plans for FIRE as making it on a single family income is rare these days.
    However, I like what I do and I work remotely whenever I want so even after 20 years I have more to give. I participate in all of my kids activities to the extent that I want so no regrets there.
    I hope to wind down my retirement by shifting to part time work in another 10 years. I’ve taken a few 2-3 month breaks where I did some international travel. But I always looked forward to going back to work. I guess I like being productive and working on a team.

  15. Save Splurge Deny Debt - Cameron

    My wife has been considering a ‘retirement’ recently. She still gets fulfillment out her job and we are just formulating a plan now. We will be experimenting with living on less for a month or two. She will probably then work part time just to pad the emergency/investment accounts.

    Thanks for the post and great ideas for us to consider!

  16. Hey Sam,

    New reader here(started November 2016). Only wish I had discovered this
    post way way ago. Keep up the good work!

  17. I guess as a single income family it’s easier for us to go into full “retirement” mode. Going into a financial “fast” sounds like a great idea, will have to pitch that idea with my wife. :)

  18. Is the personal capital snapshot your actual net worth? minus your SF properties I suppose?

    Just trying to benchmark here, since we are also in the bay :)

  19. Hey Sam –

    You recommend 20x your HH income to FIRE safely. One problem I see with this is your working income might be much higher than what you’d actually want/need when retiring (assuming your gunning for FIRE, your probably conservative overall so expense stay repetitively low regardless of your income growth YOY). So, in that case, would you actually recommend 20x of your “desired” HH income post-retirement?

    Quick example…

    My household brings in ~$160k/yr
    We only spend around $50k/yr
    You’re saying I’d need 160k * 20x = $3.2M to ‘safely’ retire early

    But what if I’m happy living off $60k/yr post-retirement. I’d only really need $60k * 20x = $1.2M according to your 20x safe rule, right?

    Thanks!

    1. I use 20X my average income for the last 3 years, which generally tends to be the highest earning years before people retire early. But you can also choose the income you feel is good enough for you. In your case, that income would be roughly $90,000 gross to cover your $60,000 in expenses. Hence, $1,800,00 target net worth.

      It’s really up to you. I use a multiple of earnings because you CAN’T manipulate what you earn, but you CAN “cheat” on your expenses but cutting things here and there to fit a number.

      The other thing is, with a lifetime of savings, it is VERY HARD to start drawing down principal in retirement. It just feels so bad. Hence, a larger number the better.

  20. This is a great read! Technically, my husband is retired and I’m still working. I love running my blog, and it would be hard for me to stop. Plus, we’re already location independent and travel full-time. BUT, I would like to take a break eventually so that I could go on a long backpacking trip, sail around the world, or something else like that where I may not want to be chained to my laptop 24/7 :)

  21. Great post, I love the spreadsheets that you use to show progressions based on age and income. I see them as a road map or financial guide to track and measure progress. My wife and I are planning on retiring in less than 12 years. I will be 52 and she will be 60. I started investing young and brought a nice nest egg to the marriage. She owned a home and has a PSERS pension that will pay her $82K per year at age 60. When we retire, She said that she is finished working, but I would like to work pt. We are following what you have suggested and are planning on how to spend our time together. We are also building in financial buffers and buffers for our buffers.

  22. “financial fast” I like this idea – it’s the first time I heard it. I need to cut my cable, but have been a bit lazy to do so. I suppose I’ve been financially fasting from this without even realizing which gives me more of a reason to do it! Congrats on you and your wife being able to retire early together…..although I’m not sure if one person taking the morning shift and one night shift is total retirement ;-).

  23. Go Finance Yourself!

    I really like the idea of going on a financial fast. We’ve been considering moving to a bigger home with modern amenities, which of course would increase our mortgage payment. I think an exercise of cutting back discretionary expenses and putting that money towards principal on our current mortgage would help us decide whether the additional cost is worth it or not.

  24. Thanks for the mention!
    Going on a financial fast is necessary when you’re making a big change like this. We have been testing our finance for a few years and we’re a bit short with passive income at this point. We’ll need to take a little distribution every year if my wife retire now. Not a huge amount and we should still be fine. 2017 is looking good, though.
    Good tip with putting health insurance on the business expense. I’ll do that when Mrs. RB40 joins the team full time.
    Yes, envy is not good for the marriage. Luckily, Mrs. RB40 doesn’t envy me being a stay-at-home dad at all. It’s a tough job with our crazy son.

      1. I LOVE Joe from RB40! He is the reason I found FS…so please keep giving Joe a mention. He rocks!

  25. Ms. Conviviality

    My husband was already living the early retirement lifestyle before I even knew that FIRE existed, thanks to your site. I joke with him that he must have seen your post on “how to convince your spouse to work longer so you can retire earlier.” I can honestly say that my marriage is the best that it has been now that he’s retired. My husband used to be a traveling car salesman and then he worked at the local dealership and our relationship suffered (really, it was miserable) because I hardly ever saw him and when I did, he was exhausted from the long and oftentimes disappointing days at work when he would work for hours with a customer only to have them go home without buying anything…and his income was totally commission based. Now, he is so fun, loving, and helpful! I’m good with the situation because he’s happy and this is the happiest I’ve been so why change it?! Maybe I wouldn’t feel this way had he not paid off the mortgage on the house we live in or didn’t contribute to half the living expenses. We also set an agreed upon amount of money that he needs to contribute to investments every quarter. I envy how his days are just filled with working on whatever/whenever he wants. His income is from various sources such as managing a 4 unit property for one of his friends who lets him keep 50% of rents, buying motorcycles or cars that he fixes up and sells, does handyman work on investment properties that will be flipped, and investments. My early retirement date will come in 5 short years as long as we keep up with our investment plans. It feels great to have a date to strive for! Thanks again to Financial Samurai for exposing me to FIRE and keeping the motivation up.

  26. Jack Catchem

    My wife is retired from the Air Force. I’ve structured our finances so she does not have to work (honestly I wouldn’t if I was her). Yet she draws a tremendous sense of purpose and drive from continuing to learn (she got an LLM and moved on to an EMBA from Chicago Booth) and earn from establishing her own firm.

    She’s incredible, but the most important part is she is still having fun.

    Myself I’m still aiming for 50, but I appreciate the advanced strategy I can get on retirement from this blog. Rock on, Sam.

      1. Jack Catchem

        She’s still in it, running her own practice on the side, and pondering a run at a large consulting firm.

        I feel like I’m at a rugby match. I have no idea what is going to happen next, but it’s a lot of fun to watch as I cheer from the sidelines.

  27. Enjoyed this post. Thanks as always, Sam!

    The post reminded me of one of your posts from a few years ago on the “one more year syndrome“. My wife and I both work in senior roles in public service. Our gross income just went over 300k – so we find ourselves saying “one more year” a lot of days. We’re in our late 30s, so it feels hard to walk away from this great income – even though we’ll probably reach FI in about 2 yeas. What makes it more complex – and what reminded me of that post from a few years ago on one more year – is that we’ve spent a lot of time talking about what we would do in early retirement. And a lot of it would be trying to do public service in our respective fields. So not only would we walk away from a great income, we’d be walking away from positions of power and influence (that would only increase in future years if we stayed the course).

    Where we are now is thinking about lifestyle design. With our wealth and good jobs, we have leverage to try and design the ideal situation. Not a retirement but perhaps part time while still driving impact in our passion areas. So that’s where we are. Thought some might interested in hearing that situation.

    Thanks!

    1. $300,000 is TOUGH, TOUGH, TOUGH to give up, especially with you guys only being in your 30s. I highly recommend going on a 30 day pretend early retirement lifestyle. Also, you may consider a sabbatical. Finally, just have one spouse go first to see how it goes. That way, you’ll stay have a good income in case anything goes wrong.

      What about the pension you will be giving up though? Tough to walk away from that public sector benefit!

  28. You don’t talk about the other side of the story. The working spouse.

    My wife “retired” (i.e. stayed home to raise a kid) at 32 and before that was a student (so she really retired at 29). I am still working to pay for our lives and futures. There are days that I am envious that she is home with our son (even though I know it can be brutal). I am envious because I want to retire early, and here she is already doing it!

    I like the idea of a financial fast. We are going to have a low spending May as a way to flex are financial muscles.

    1. Ms. Conviviality

      Yeah, I bet there are more working spouses reading this site than the “retired” ones because we still need to figure a way out of the rat race! :)

    2. Actually, I do by questioning whether one is really retired taking care of a child and a household since it’s such an important job that has a lot of meaning and takes a lot of work.

      We can call ourselves whatever we want. Men like to say we are early retired, women like to say they take care of house. But in the end, it’s kind of all the same!

  29. I like the fact that we both didn’t retire at the same time. It gave me time to settle in and get past the “reinvention” stage. When he does retire, I’ll be there to support him. As a woman, I have plenty of friends who don’t work. Lunch, women’s club, the beach…I’m well adjusted! LOL

  30. I found #4 very interesting – great general marriage advice. “Envy and resentment on my part welled to the surface” and you had a conversation about it. Trouble happens when those things go unsaid or even unidentified. You didn’t say, do it this way, you discussed the desired outcome and are cool if it ends up being very different than how you get it done (ie. the night shift).

    As a newlywed, can I identify any area that cause slight envy or resentment? Or areas where the goals we have together aren’t matched up in our own minds? Or areas I try to encourage my wife to do things my way, when her way might work better for her. Good food for thought.

  31. I am dying to retire early. As someone who is miserable in his job, its a primary goal I am borderline obsessing over. I don’t think its healthy at this point.

    That said, I own an investment property that covers my “bare minimum” life expenses already, and have an net worth over 20X my annual spending. However, as much as I dislike what I do, I am going to wait until my net worth is 40X annual expenses. This is because of the “mix” of assets that will produce income and those that are do not. In order to own a house outright, etc… and maintain my current “bare minimum” in coverage, that is the math.

    So, hopefully will be retiring in roughly 3-4 years. Like, an eternity!

  32. I think it’s so true that having the early retired life is boring without someone to share it with. If you already have a group of friends to hang out with during the day, then no big deal.

    I remember the first time I got laid off I was 25, and decided to take the summer off. It was such a cool idea, yet by the second or third month, I was bored to tears. I was by myself, going to the apartment pool each day, but almost no one was there with me. That was seriously boring.

    Fast forward 15 years, and I am in the process of engineering my layoff, thanks to Sam’s book, and the boss has already verbally agreed to it and even talked to his boss and HR about it. I am now waiting to see what they come back with (as the finance manager here, I have already seen what other involuntary severance packages people have received, so I knew they were pretty good). This is an IDEAL way to kick off my early retirement.

    I’m not hating on people who say they are retired, even though their spouse still works. But really, my wife would never say she was retired at 35, because she stayed at home with the kids. That’s just silly, tens of thousands of American women each year do this, and don’t write blogs about being retired (more mommy blogs, etc). In fact, she admitted, now the two kids are in regular school, that this is the FIRST year she feels like she’s retired from work. I can’t wait to join her.

    I 100% agree we will have way more fun together, especially hiking, than if we were alone. Sure, we will need to adjust to each other, but with the kids at the free public school all day, it should be much easier on those days. Plus those extra summer trips she takes without me, I can now join her for.

    1. I’m so excited for you to engineer your layoff! As soon as you sign the severance package and receive the money in the bank you will feel like you are winning for sure!

      It really is funny thatVery few women, if any say they are retired when they stay at home to take care of the kids orThe house, WhereasMany of us manAren’t willing to say we are stay-at-home dads, but early retirees instead.This is a sociological construct that is fun to explore!

      Besides, staying at home and taking care of a child and the house is a $100,000 plus/yr job to me! It’s hard work!!!

  33. Since I don’t have a SO, there isn’t too much that pertained to me, although hopefully someday it will! :) Who knows, maybe he will already be FI too!? One can hope. :) But, one thing you did say in the article really stood out to me was going on a financial fast. I think this is so important, and I used to say this all the time for people who were thinking of taking the leap into working for themselves. If you can’t handle it, you probably shouldn’t leave your 9-5!

    1. I hear you. A day job is so much easier then going out on your own. But the rewarding feeling of going out on your own is so much greater than working at a job.

      A lot of finding someone is just a numbers game filled w/ randomness and luck. The more you put yourself out there, the higher the chance. Good luck Tonya!

  34. Hey Sam, June 15th is an awesome day….it is also my birthday! :)

    I also wanted to ask you a question, when are we going to see that Range Rover Sport that we know you want??

    Great Post!

  35. We did things the hard way….having kids first and now working to retire early. We’re both 37 and should be able to retire by 50. We could retire a lot earlier if we didn’t have kids, but I don’t envision us scaling our work down until we have some sort of idea of what our kids are doing when it comes to higher ed.

    Since our business is online, I’m sure we’ll want to keep working to a certain extent. But I would like to work when we want and at our leisure vs. the 40 hour weeks we put in now. Once our kids leave the nest, I envision us slow traveling and working online when it suits us. At least – that’s the goal!

    If you are super healthy, you should look into Liberty Healthshare. We joined a few years ago because the ACA plans in our state/county are expensive and sucky. clubthrifty.com/liberty-healthshare-review/

    1. DIY Money Guy

      Good tip on the Healthshare. Health Insurance is one of the few concerns I have about FIRE. I haven’t figured what our family of four is going to do in that respect yet. I have a really good high deductible plan through my employer now and only pay ~$115 a month combined for medical, dental and vision for our family of four. We will definitely have to account for the the increased expenses of healthcare once we leave our jobs.

      1. We pay $449 per month for our family of four, and we only have a $1,500 annual “deductible.” It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative. At least we can see any doctor we want – the ACA plans in our state/county are so narrow network it’s unbelievable.

    2. The way you guys are doing things is great IMO. Have kids younger (easier to do, and easier on the body), and then both of you guys work on your business from home or wherever the internet takes you.

      Our paths are basically going to intersect, even if you feel that you need to work to 50 to reach your number. Hope folks realize there’s many ways to live a free life!

  36. Vistahermosa

    Great post. Sam – I almost fell out of my chair when I read how much you are paying for health insurance. I pay $880 for me, wife and 2 kids. I bet if you shop around, you can cut that monthly expense significantly.

    1. I’ve shopped around like a maniac. And for the platinum plan, this is but as best as we can do for the two of us. At least it is a business expense, and is there for about 30% cheaper than reality.

      It’s kind a like doing my own taxes. I review them multiple times wondering where I can save, and no matter what I just can’t optimize anymore.

      1. I’m curious why a platinum plan when you both are young and in good health and can afford out of pocket expenses? Why not a catastrophic plan with a 5k deductible? It would seem that after 6 months the difference in premiums would cover the 5k deductible. Going forward its all gravy

        1. I probably should get the cheapest disaster plan, but there’s another thing beyond the costs… it’s the paperwork (lack of) and the coverage (less resistance from insurers not to reimburse etc).

          I’ve found from several years of experience not having the best plan, and having the best plan, there’s much less paperwork and stress. I’m paying up for convenience, as well as better coverage.

  37. Mrs. Max currently has no interest in early retirement, she just switched to a new job with more responsibility, and enjoys what she does. I do however worry about how our dynamic would change once I pull the trigger on early retirement. We’ve discussed it a few times, and it was clear that we were not on the same page.

    This has made me realize that her working would act as an obstacle to my early retirement. I’m going to need to design my exit around a scenario where we’re both done with work. This way she has the option to leave anytime without being resentful of my new lifestyle. She already has a side hustle, so it shouldn’t be too hard of a transition.

    1. Not sure if her work will be an obstacle, it just means you may not enjoy ER as much since she’s never around. It does get lonely when you’re home all day while she is at work.

      I found myself going downtown to have lunch with her on days b/c there was nobody else to hang with.

  38. DIY Money Guy

    I just learned about the FIRE concept a couple of years ago. It took a while to convince my wife that this FIRE was not only a real thing but very attainable. A couple of ways I was able to get her on board was when she has a frustrating day at work I ask her, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to go back to work tomorrow?” Also, when we have a great weekend day with our daughters I ask, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this everyday rather than just the weekends?” Needless to say she is fully on board now and we have really cranked up our savings.

    My biggest concerns are how we will fill our days in retirement. I know people and have seen first hand how much retirement takes a toll on people. They seem to lose not only their identity of their previous position/title but sense of purpose. Because of that I really want to make sure we both not only have a plan on what we are going to do to fill our days, but also start doing those things well before we retire so it will make the transition that much easier and won’t feel so foreign. That is the plan at least. You did make some good points that I jotted down some notes on to talk through with my wife this evening. The point about not only having a specific amount out money but also having a specific date, and actually plan out what our back up plans will be rather than just assuming we will go back to work. Thanks for the insights as always!

    1. Jack Catchem

      Oooh. I like your point about losing self identity! As a cop, it’s something I watched many of my retired peers struggle with.

      I developed two “next” goals post career. Be a violinist and participate with an orchestra and truly be a writer.

      Then I realized if I waited 15 years until I was 50 to start playing and writing, I would SUCK! So I started taking lessons and made a blog.

      I’m still terrible at both, but improving! What was it the virtuoso said, “I don’t have talent, I have tenacity”?

      Turns out my instructor, who doubles as a conductor, was shaken by my decision. Planning a new identity once I sacrifice my current one shook him to the core. What would HE be if he couldn’t play? It’s a good thought for us all.

    2. Definitely go on a trial run and PRETEND you guys are retired for at LEAST 30 days. Do what you think you want to do on the sides, live on less, leave your work worries behind. It also helps to pretend you are FIRE during a long vacation.

  39. Apathy Ends

    We plan to retire at the same time (although I do joke that she has two more years after I retire since I started earlier) right now, that might change down the road – in reality I see myself working a bit longer with a higher salary.

    The financial test is a great recommendation, definitely something we would have to do before pulling the plug on a career/full time job.

  40. financialzenguy

    Great one Sam! My wife and I are based in Malaysia, in our twenties, and we are aiming for early retirement! We believe in going against the joneses who have to flash things, and our strategy so far has kept us on track to retire early. This post is a great reminder!

    Hoping to inspire like you here in Asia :)

    1. Ah, one of my favorite countries in the world. Oh how I miss all the Malaysian food every day. You might consider making some extra money in Singapore or elsewhere, and then return to Malaysia for retirement.

      It’s kinda like making your money in SF or NYC, and then retiring in a much cheaper part of the country.

  41. My wife and I plan to retire probably within 6 months apart from each other. She’ll be the first one to go. Since our work situation is good I rather wait until we’re both ready to retire for some of the reasons that you mentioned. If I were to retire early without her I’d still feel kind of trapped by not being able to go away without her.
    Our net worth won’t be 20 times our gross annual household income (that would be a long wait) but it will be more than enough since we live on about 30% of our income.

    1. I totally agree. We have no plans to retire with 20x our annual spending needs. It will be closer to 17. My in-law’s retired at 55 and have a seriously high, like 8% withdrawal rate. They still haven’t touched their principal (call it stupid luck or whatever).

      1. “Finally, instead of an income target, you guys can also consider a net worth target to achieve before both of you leave the workforce. My recommended net worth target is 20X gross household income” Sam’s recommendation is a net worth target of 20x gross household income (not x annual spending) which would give us a crazy retirement number to shoot for, without accounting for our savings rate.
        17x annual spending (FU money) can give you many, many years of freedom to hustle and create more passive income streams. The bull market is probably helping your in-laws in not touching the principal.

        1. Right now, everything is rosy in the economy and stock market. It’s been a great run since the double bottom in 2012.

          You just have to model what happens during several down years and flat years, hence my 20X average household income target. You don’t have to get there, but if you do, it will feel pretty amazing (FU money-like as you say).

          1. I personally don’t like income targets, although yours is fail proof, because they don’t take into the effect of taxes. I know our spending budget, I know our tax situation (it’s rosy in ER). My in-laws are an entirely different story, they rely on their financial adviser for everything, do absolutely 0 DIY work, ,and have no problem spending 100% of their investment income.

            Another point about market returns, I know the current prez is not a Reagan clone. However, his anti-regulatory stance, along with repeal and replace of O-Care (last bill looked like a big improvement) and tax cuts, which are coming, are all good market news. Offset by some feisty foreign situations, which always exist, and we have some very solid ground for future bull markets. I am not a perma bull, but my gut tells me we are in the early 1980’s as far as market returns are concerned.

            1. But a president’s polices or effect on markets will only last a fraction of your ER, so I wouldn’t rely too much on that?

  42. I’m on the working end of the retiree situation right now and there are days (like today) where I am a bit envious of him. We are leaving on a trip tonight and he has all day to get ready. I had to stay up late to get everything together and I’m heading in to work soon. Luckily my days until early retirement are numbered (78 to be exact!)
    Believing that we had enough “financial buffers” to cover our financial buffers was a tough thing until we wrote it out and reflected on our lists (over and over…) Running the “what if” scenarios and thinking of the worst actually got us over my one more year syndrome.
    I wouldn’t say we have fears now – but we need to not rush and try to see the world too fast. We have time (not as much as the Millennials out there) but relaxing as we travel needs to be a focus too.

    1. Pretty amazing you’ll be completely retired in 78 days.

      One thing, DON’T take any vacations until then. Use your sick days. Vacation days = real pay days that must be paid out.

      Enjoy the remaining months! It’ll go quicker than you think.

      1. Unfortunately I have no sick or vacation days! I cashed all of those out when I left the public schools to teach at a college five years ago. I clearly needed a book on how to “negotiate an individual contract” because I probably could have had a better deal than I got for “filling in” this year. I could have walked away from the job (since I’m FI) but I’m not good at advocating at all. I’m guessing there are others who could benefit from a book from you on negotiating contracts Sam :)

  43. Oh man, Joe’s wife is gonna be really pissed at you! :)

    My wife “retired” at Age 30 (stay at home Mom), I’m finally joining her when I FIRE next June!! Looking forward to that “walk in the park”, and the travel.

    Biggest thing for us: To have a plan, then execute. I appreciate what you do, Sam. Great stuff!

  44. Physician On FIRE

    When you’ve always been a one income household, becoming a zero (active) income household doesn’t require a whole lot of wrangling.

    We do talk a lot about how we’ll spend our time as a family once we both have freedom. I won’t pretend that my wife hasn’t been busy while I’ve been working. She has done the bulk of the more mundane aspects of raising a couple boys and launching them into elementary school, as well as the majority of the household tasks. She looks forward to me picking up some of the slack.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  45. As an early retiree, there are certainly some days that my wife looks at me with envy. I get to play with the kids all day long, sneak in a nap, and galavant around the house in my shorts and t-shirt.

    The interesting thing, however, is that when I bring up the idea of her retiring early, she’s not all that intrigued. And, I’m certainly not complaining because her salary subsidizes my early retirement and allows us to not touch any retirement principal yet.

    She works for her own reasons, and it’s beyond herself. In fact, it’s what I admire about her most… she works out of passion which is to shepherd college-bound kids. She finds an incredible amount of fulfillment teaching, coaching, and watching her students flourish… probably similar to you, Sam, when you are coaching tennis.

    Anyhow, as much as I’d love to work towards a dual early retired household, who am I to take away that passion that drives her? I guess I’ve got a pretty sweet deal for now. :)

    That’s wonderful, Sam, that your wife is eager to work with you on growing your business!!

    1. That’s great your wife loves her work! Less than 25% of employees do.

      Yes, helping kids grow up and get ahead is really rewarding. I don’t think I could be an educator for 8+ hours a day, but 3 hours a day is pretty great.

    2. To be honest, I’d be super jealous and unhappy with my husband if he retired early and stayed at home doing nothing. But if he retires early and still follows his passions or invests successfully in passive income streams, I wouldn’t have any problem with that.

      I don’t see myself retiring early anytime soon even if I could because I love what I do. I like people who work hard and are ambitious. As long as my spouse is doing something useful with his life and don’t rely on me financially, I’m totally fine with it. I definitely don’t want to rely on him financially either.

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