Early Retirement Five Years Later: Reflections On Life After Work

Reflecting On Early Retirement Five Years Later

On March 8, 2017 I celebrated five years away from Corporate America. I also finally collected 100% of my remaining severance package on March 31. To celebrate, I'd like to share some insights into what I've learned since leaving the rat race. I'll then share some more insights since 2017 as well.

Initially, if anybody asked, I told them I had retired. However, I soon realized how obnoxious it sounded for a 34 year old to say he was retired. I could sense their resentment, so I decided to say I was unemployed and following my dream to be a writer instead.

When they heard I was jobless and pursuing a highly unlucrative career, people's attitudes changed. They offered advice and introductions to other people.

Some even invited me to stay at their vacation homes out of pity. It was interesting to observe how much more empathy people have when they perceive you not doing as well as they.

Related: Are You Smart Enough To Act Dumb Enough To Get Ahead?

Nowadays, few consider me an early retiree because I'm busy writing and doing many other activities. This post may be particularly useful to those who can't break free due to the one more year syndrome. However, I suspect there's something here for everyone.

Reflecting On Five Years Of Early Retirement

1) Early retirement gets easier over time.

During my first year after leaving Corporate America, I often wondered whether forsaking a steady paycheck and a growing career was an optimal financial move. This was understandable because I hadn't been away from the workplace long enough to appreciate fully what else was out there.

But as each month passed, I became more confident about my decision. My severance package was still getting paid out once or twice a year and I was doing things I could not do while working full-time e.g. consulting in fintech, writing more openly online, traveling for more than three weeks at a time, coaching high school tennis, managing home improvement projects, etc.

During years two and three of early retirement, while I continued to feel fear and uncertainty, I was also experiencing excitement and hope. The door for returning to full-time work continued to be left open, even if now it was only a crack.

By the time year four rolled around, I'd found acceptance and clarity. It was the first time I resolved never to go back, especially after a terrible interview experience with a life insurance startup. After five years, I'm feeling tremendous joy because I've come to fully embrace the early retirement lifestyle.

Wife Retiring Was Huge

The inflection point came when my wife joined me in early retirement in 2015. We made a pact when I left in 2012 that if I still felt the water was warm by the time she turned 34, she'd jump on in as well. Here's here story on how she was able to negotiate a six-figure severance as a high-performing employee.

Once she retired, there was some initial adjusting we had to do as we weren't used to seeing each other 24/7. But we made things work and she's now the CFO/COO of our company.

We both get the intellectual challenge of doing something exciting while also having the ability to spend more time raising a family. I could not ask for a better life partner, especially now that we have two young children under 4!

2) You won't believe you worked so hard and took so much risk.

Looking back, I find it crazy I on average worked 60-70 hours a week at my corporate job for 10 years straight out of college, plus an additional 20 – 30 hours a week on the side during my last three years after I launched FinancialSamurai.com.

It's no wonder I had so much chronic pain in my back, jaw, elbow, and foot! Seriously folks, the health benefits of early retirement are priceless. If you are finding yourself physically and mentally struggling, you owe it to yourself to find another job.

When you're desperate to change your life, you tend to do everything you can to achieve your goals. Nowadays, I feel working 25 hours a week on things I enjoy is the ideal amount of time for maximum happiness.

It now seems incredibly risky to take on a $1,220,000 mortgage at the age of 28. After purchase, I could have been easily laid off or fired from my highly cyclical finance job.

Further, after the $304,000 (20%) downpayment, I was left with no cash buffer for emergencies. I actually had to borrow some money from my grandfather to seal the deal in December 2004. I paid him back a couple months later with interest once I got my bonus in February 2005.

Manage Risk Better

What also surprises me about my housing purchase back then is that 10 years later (2014), I bought a 18% cheaper house with a much smaller mortgage, despite being ~8X wealthier!

Normal folks would have probably upgraded to a nicer house in a fancier neighborhood. Not us. We wanted to move to the western part of San Francisco where we could see the ocean and avoid the madding crowds.

Today, I would never invest $60,000 in a single private company like I did in Bulldog Gin as a 29 year old. Especially not if the company was led by a first-time entrepreneur.

Today, the maximum I'd ever invest in an individual company is $25,000. I've seen way too many failed businesses to be an angel investor anymore. Being naive allows you to take more risks!

As a retiree, I like taking minimal risk. Give me a bond that holds its value and pays a 4% or higher gross yield a year and I'm happy. Life is better when you don't expect too much.

Work hard when you are younger because you won't want to when you are older. Take many calculated risks when you are younger because you won't have the guts to do so when you're older.

3) Following your passion no longer becomes cliché. 

“Follow your passion, and the money will come” is bad advice for most people. Instead, it's much better to pursue a field you like that's in high demand so you can build your financial empire and get out before you become too old and bitter to change.

As a retiree, you've presumably optimized your budget, track your finances like a hawk, earn enough passive income to cover your expenses, and have some side hustle to fill any income or time gaps. Once your finances are set you can easily pursue what you love. If you pursue hard enough, money might eventually come rolling in.

For the first two years, Financial Samurai hardly made any money. I remember high-fiving myself whenever I made $10 bucks! But that was OK because I had a steady job and some passive income. Once I left work, my online income grew rapidly because I was in love with what I did.

Today, my online income is greater than my passive income. On a weekly basis my wife and I pinch each other's butt cheeks to remind ourselves how lucky we are to have such an unanticipated income stream. Each year we keep thinking it'll go away, yet so far it continues to be the best performing asset.

There's no greater professional joy than making money in an activity you'd do for free. Therefore, work on that passion project while you have a job, especially if you don't particular like what you do.

4) You'll naturally find your groove. 

Besides the fear of running out of money in retirement (totally overblown), boredom and loneliness are the other fears many retirees deal with, especially those on the younger end of the spectrum.

For so long, we've been conditioned to hang out with other people with day jobs. The reality is, there's a huge ocean of people who work irregular hours and who make money doing irregular things. If you go on Meetup.com, you'll instantly find a group that meets your interest.

Since retiring, I've met a plethora of other early retirees who earn income from their pensions, rental properties, dividend investments, and businesses. Further, there are plenty of people who don't work traditional jobs and are living wonderful lives.

Don't fear boredom. If you were motivated enough to retire early, you will be motivated enough to keep busy doing the things that interest you most. Many early retirees I talk to are even busier than while they were working!

5) You'll experience a next level of happiness. 

After the post, Scraping By On $500K went bonkers, a newish blogger asked “whether it was easier dealing with trolls the longer you're online.” I was surprised by the question. I hadn't considered anyone who disliked my article to be a troll.

Rather, I thought it fascinating to observe the different types of responses. Several readers also left comments asking whether I was doing OK. OK? I felt so energized that I decided to write a follow up post about peoples' comments on my post!

See: A $500K Redo: How One Couple Got Their Mojo Back!

If I was still working or in the first two years of early retirement, I think I'd probably feel highly agitated by those authors who came from tremendous privilege twisting my message because in those days I was less confident in myself.

But today, I'm ecstatic that anybody is bothering to talk about my stuff. It's an honor I'll never take for granted. It's why I still comment all the time on much smaller sites who show some love.

The day you decide you have enough is the day you'll catch yourself smiling for no good reason. It's the same reason why it's very difficult to tell other people to f*ck off once you have f*ck you money. You already feel bad for the person hating on you because something in his life is bothering him. There's no need to make him feel any worse by arguing.

The longer you survive early retirement, the happier you become. And when you reach the point where you're no longer counting your pennies, wondering whether you'll be able to make it until your 401k pays out, your happiness will explode!

Don't Forget Why You're Working So Hard

Rich or poor, never forget your WHY. As long as you are clear on your reasons for why you're making all these sacrifices, life gets easier.

Since I was about 32, I've had this vision of one day being a stay at home dad. I want to be the dad who has no problems staying up all night to swaddle, change diapers, and soothe his baby so mom can consistently get 2-3 hours of sleep between feedings.

I want to be that dad who takes his baby for a stroll in the park in the middle of a weekday. I want to be the dad who watches every single one of his kid's soccer games at 3pm. There's no place he'd rather be than rooting for his son.

Sounds like a romanticized fantasy? You better believe it! Once I have a dream, I do my best to make it come true. Not having a job is the only way I can achieve this vision.

Early retirement is no longer about me, but about everybody I care most deeply about. There's nothing more valuable than having an abundance of time to spend with family.

Now in 2021, I want to finally get back at living the early retirement lifestyle. Once lockdowns began in March 2020, I decided to spend more time trying to make more money online. But I'm tired now. It's time to enjoy life to the max once all my family members have received their vaccines!


The Dark Side Of Early Retirement

How To Retire Early And Never Have To Work Again

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Related post: The Best Passive Income Investments For Retirement

111 thoughts on “Early Retirement Five Years Later: Reflections On Life After Work”

  1. I retired this year at 52. I am single. The company subsidizes my health insurance until Medicare, so I pay about $2,500/year for that. I’ve got enough cash/cd’s to easily last until age 60, and then when I can start withdrawing from the 401k I will have more $$$$ than I’d ever need in 2 lifetimes. People who work years longer than they need to are total morons, assuming their job is anywhere as close to stressful as mine was, as an engineer. I’ve had uncles and grandparents that didn’t make near the money I did, yet died with several hundred thousands in the bank at age 80 or so. A lot of good that money did them, working till they were 70 or whatever. A person can easily live on 50 – 100K a year for the last 20 – 30 years of their life if they save up for the first 50 years. The folks who warn against early retirement are usually working for brokerage firms who have a vested interest in your continued income. Also, relying on stock market returns of 8% year in & year out are a fool’s dream. If you are going to get married, insist that your spouse work to contribute to a savings plan. One-sided marriages are probably one of the top 3 reasons why people don’t have squat for money by age 40 or 50.

  2. Aparna @ Elementum Money

    The post that led me to this one was “The Dark Side of Early Retirement”. It’s quite interesting how perspective changes with the life stage. What I like is how honest you are about that change in perspective.

  3. Which life insurance startup did you interview with? I am in the Bay Area too and did interview with lots of startups over the years. HealthIQ was one of them and is in the life insurance business. Wondering if that was it.

  4. PhilanthroCapitalist

    “On a weekly basis my wife and I pinch each other’s butt cheeks . . .”

    This was nice.

  5. Great post about the reality of early retirement! I am currently on a mini-retirement stint. I stay at home with my 3-yr old daughter but also doing an online MBA program (education grant with income). I had to put my career (as an engineer) on hold and slowed down our progress towards FI but I’d rather take this time off now when she is not in school yet. So effectively, FI has moved down a couple of years. It was weird at first to not go to work but once school started, I felt that my life was more balanced and that I absolutely made the right decision.

  6. Not a big money guy, don’t come from money, and never had any grand ideas about retirement or retiring early for that matter.

    I “retired” overseas from the military at earliest opportunity (20 years), age 38. Had squirreled away about $50k the last 7 or so years on active duty. Lucky fall into contracting work right after that, made some “good” money (for my social/education status) in low to mid 6 figure range for about 6 years, then dropped out at 44/45 years old. Remain living overseas in a low cost country/scenario.

    Didn’t lead the typical life I guess. No kids. No houses/mortgages in the US, car loans, ex-wives…. bit of a nomad really. When I was on good money/packages, company paid for everything, so the wife and I basically lived on the military pension. I kept stashing the corporate salary away every month, and accrued a tidy sum in that time. It’s invested now, producing a second, passive income exceeding the mil pension. I leave portfolio on reinvest about half the year, then take divs the other half to fund more extensive/expensive travel, and keep the cash reserves topped up for contingencies. Otherwise, 90% of our life at home is still funded by the mil pension.

    5 years into the “not working” lifestyle, seems to be going OK financially. My sense is it should continue to be OK as long as I maintain fiscal/portfolio discipline, and nothing too catastrophic happens in the market or political/government policy arena.

  7. It sounds like you’ve really gotten into the swing of early retirement, which is unsurprising. Knowing yourself and taking good care of people who matter to you is vital to a good life.

  8. Canadian Girl

    Thanks for the great articles. I’m so envious that your wife also retired with you. It’s interesting that the majority of comments are from men that want to retire early. I’ve been planning for myself and my husband to retire at 35 for the past 10 years. We are now actually financially independent! I’m 35 now and we just had our third child. The problem is that my husband refuses to leave his job. He thinks I’m ridiculous for even considering retirement. Our friends also mocked me last month for discussing it. Here in Canada, we have maternity leave for one year, so I was planning on retiring once maternity leave was over in ten months. My main issue is if my husband continues to work, I feel like I can’t retire – I just become a stay at home mom which honestly is harder than working. So unless I can convince my husband to stop working – we will both work for the sake of working. So frustrating! I will continue to live my retirement dreams through your blog. Thanks again!

  9. What do you think your biggest lesson has been since retiring? Has retiring been better than you expected or met your expectation?

    I’m currently working full time and started this blog with my best friend who loves personal finance as much as I do. We enjoy reading your blog and trying to find our niche to inspire people to prioritize their finances to live a better life, we think if they don’t its bonkers, yet so many people follow the path of who immediate gratification instead/

    You’ve been inspiring to us to keep following our side hustle while working full-time, hoping one day to enjoy the future as you are enjoying the present!!

    1. The fear in your head is greater than reality. We are taught to be conservative, but it is the calculated risk-takers that make great strides. Good luck on your side hustle!

  10. Thanks! I’m excited for y’alls early retirement journey! You guys will have a blast, especially since you’ve already got your site and writing gigs lined up. You’ll easily be able to fill your day with stimulating stuff!

  11. Thanks for sharing your experiences Sam. They’re always instructive. It’s nice to get the view from the other side. Thanks again! :)

  12. supernova72

    In regards to #4 after 8 months of *retirement* I’m still trying to find my groove as I was part of a corporate downsizing effort at Megacorp (31 yrs).

    I was of retirement age so am drawing a pension that covers 80% of my overall expenses. Net worth is ~ $1.4M if you include my house (just paid it off). $725K in my 401K. I’m far from rich but not starving yet.

    Because the retirement was not on my terms it’s a bit weird not going into the office M-F but I’m slowly adjusting. Have not ruled out PT work (was a financial analyst then IT project manager at the end of my career).

    Reading lots of helpful forums like yours to get tips so to speak. Appreciate your post.

    1. Sorry to hear about the involuntary downsizing, but 31 years is a good run! Hopefully they gave you a decent severance? A paid off house and a pension covering 80% of your overall expenses is great.

      You are feeling more of the temporary ego hit and routine disruption, which is totally normal. But your finances are rock solid, so time to shine a lantern on your situation and EMBRACE being unemployed!

      Be unemployed and proud I say. You deserve it! Think about all the income taxes you are saving too :)

  13. For me Early Retirement is about choices. You’ve certainly made the most of your choices!
    I passed my 5 years anniversary last October. Except I only retired at 56, so only a few years early. Like you, I had ceased to enjoy work, realised I didn’t need the money, so I just left. (No negotiated exit package though!) Those 5 years have just been amazing. I feel so much richer in body and spirit as a result.

    My experience over the last 5 years, is that Retirement doesn’t mean I have stopped. I still want to ‘do’ things. I make things in metal, large & small. I walk daily. I read widely. I travel loads. I even started a blog a few months ago. (I dream of 1,000 page views a month, let alone 100,000 a month!)

    The difference is, the deadlines I set are my own, I can choose to do something or not.

    I smile every morning when I wake up!

    1. Erith, I smile reading your comment! Well done on your ER journey as well and congratulations for doing so.

      Great job taking the initiative to start your site. The most fun thing about starting off is that there’s nothing but upside! Growth can be huge, so cherish it! You’ll naturally find your people and become buddies with them.

      I’m excited for you!!

  14. Your personal “why” is awesome. So many FI bloggers talk so much about “independence,” but what does “independence” really mean? A buddy of mine recently left education to focus on his burgeoning real estate empire. It was a difficult decision for him because he loves kids, but it has allowed him to focus on his own family and still work on projects that benefit kids in need. I’ve come to realize that my retirement number has less to with an exact million dollar figure and more to do with my “why.” Another great post.

    1. Thanks Tim. I’m really enjoying my Why right now, and I’ll share some experiences in a future post. So long as we know our Why front and center, life has so much more meaning. Blessed.

  15. I think the part about remembering WHY you’re working may be the most important part. The vast majority of Americans hate their jobs, and part of it is because of the soulless and pointless nature of modern work. We dedicate our time, health, and lives to an employer for the privilege of continuing to be able to do so. We’re there for a paycheck, not a purpose. When you’re every action and effort is without purpose, it makes you feel depressed.

    It may not be about financial freedom or end goals, but I think one of the keys to happiness at work is to be able to ask “Why am I here?” and answer with something other than “for the paycheck”.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Definitely. When one is here just for the paycheck, that’s when your soul kinda leaves your body. I had this moment at 25-26, especially after 911 happened a couple years earlier. Then I had the same moment in 2011. I felt little purpose at work anymore. Had to move on. So much happier now being able to connect with normal folks looking to get ahead. It’s one of the main reasons why I spend hours responding in the comments section of all 1,300+ posts over the past 8 years!

  16. Excellent message about retiring early and the stigma that it has. It seems you’ve learned that what truly matters is YOUR happiness and providing the type of life for your family that you’ll all benefit from. The money is just a tool used to accomplish that.
    Working on my tools now :)

  17. Adriana @MoneyJourney

    I’ve always compared having an online income stream with having a real job.

    Many don’t understand it (I’ve actually had friends pity me for preferring to spend my free time working on blogs instead of watching TV!) but what others think doesn’t really matter.

    Kudos for being able to spend time with your family by retiring early!

    I used to be under the impression the many people roaming the streets were probably unemployed. It took a while to realize they might be small business owners who actually have the time to enjoy a sunny day in the middle of the week! :D

    1. It’s definitely good to view building an online income stream like having a real job if you want to grow your income stream. I enjoy the growth, but I enjoy the writing and connecting more. What I do is write something that’s on my mind, and then look for business partnerships that fit my writing, instead of the other way around. It’s much more enjoyable this way, with a lower burnout rate.

      The folks roaming during the middle of the day have figured it out! Going against rush hour is a huge happiness booster.

  18. Flexibility was a big reason I left the traditional workplace 6 years ago. So much was getting pushed off to the short weekend, including chores, fun, and even a full night of sleep. I spent the majority of the time surviving, not thriving. And even though I didn’t even have a girlfriend at the time, ya I knew things weren’t heading towards a happy family life.

    Also – I’d love a full article on the Bulldog Gin story! Must have been quite a pitch.

    1. I’m impressed you left the workplace 6 years ago. That was in your mid-to-early 20s right? I wanted to leave at 25, but didn’t feel it was the right thing and I was of course scared. I wanted to work until I didn’t like my job, then I wouldn’t look back and wonder.

      I may expand on the Bulldog Gin story (https://www.financialsamurai.com/protect-your-net-worth-from-financial-distortion/) in a future post. Getting my distribution supposedly on 4/21/2017. But it’s a disappointing return actually!

      Private equity investors beware. Save your money.

  19. All very insightful information from someone who has been on this road for 5 years. I’m looking forward to have my own financial independence reflection once we get there in the near future. :)

  20. I really enjoyed reading this post. You described the stage that I’m at right now very precisely. Now that we reached financial independence and the money pile continues to grow no matter what we do, I feel pity for others that don’t understand our lifestyle choices. Reaching this point feels different than I thought and in a really good way. I guess that with great FU money power comes great responsibility.

  21. I really enjoyed hearing your adventure during the first years of retirement. I am in a bit of a different situation and wondering what you and others my have for advice. I have saved and saved and have a reasonable passive income. I have wonderful children who are well on their way to success. My husband and I have had a great life and planned for a future of travel and fun with early retirement. The change in the plan is that my husband unexpectedly passed away. Now I am almost afraid to not work. It isn’t about the money it just seems odd to retire early alone, not having the social community of work and then trying to figure out what the rest of the path looks like. My kids are great and I want to visit them, as well as travel. When your spouse passes it is somewhat like getting divorced as your friends that are couples see you different. My girlfriends still have kids at home. I am concerned about retirement and all alone will look like and yes, I do keep myself busy with hobbies and more but retirement brings a lot of available time. Any thoughts?

    1. I’m a never-married, early-retired female, and life is great! I travel a ton on group tours, and meet wonderful people. I live in a condo, and I have excellent neighbors who I socialize with. I power walk 6-8 miles a day, 6 days a week, so I am healthier than I was when I worked. I schedule lunch with friends every couple of weeks to be sure I don’t get isolated. It works.

      1. This is what I hope life will be like if I just get the guts to do it. I have been thinking about the group tours as well. If you don’t mind my asking to you go by yourself without knowing anyone? and do you have any recommendations for tour companies that you have liked? I have done some travel on my own I do like the freedom of doing what I want but I have been considering a tour either through one of the active tour companies like backcountry or one affiliated with a university alumni group.
        Thank you for your insight.

        1. I do travel by myself without knowing anyone else on the tour. That’s only the first day, though. I’m relatively extroverted, so I just walk up to people and start talking. I meet really nice people.

          I’ve done tours with Viking, Tauck, Gate1, and AAA Sojourns. Travelzoo is a good aggregator, too. I sometimes book on my own or through Travelzoo, and sometimes through AAA. The Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show in the early spring is a good place to get ideas.

    2. v, I’m very sorry for your loss.

      One of the guys retired at the legal retirement age and his wife passed away soon after. He came back to work as a contractor because in his words, “You can only walk on the beach so many times.” He needed something to fill in the hours.

      I think to overcome this, you need to find your passion because eventually you will reach the retirement age and finding work may be difficult. Unless of course work is your true passion.

      Travelling sounds like the best one to start with. Everyone I’ve spoken to has agreed that once you start travelling, you can’t stop. It’s fun and addictive.

      And you don’t have to take the guided tours, you have the time to research and plan all your stops (including niche places that the major tour operators skip) and adventures and calculate the costs.

      1. Yes, I think you may be right and travelling may be the answer at least initially. I am wondering how those people on HGTV manage to go to say London for a month, the Australia for a month and then they decide to journey to somewhere else all without a real plan. I need to figure out how that works with the passport/visa process.

        1. Well you don’t need a visa for every country if your country has an visa exemption agreement with them. For example I can enter Botswana, Mozambique and Mauritius without a visa (although in some cases it’s limited for a number of days). In Europe they have the schengen visa, which allows you to enter multiple countries in one go.

          I know people without a plan and they are uber spontaneous! They wake up one morning, roll out of bed and decide I’m going somewhere and do it! And when they arrive at their destination, then only they plan where to stay!

          Also check out what your hometown offers. For example, my hometown offers whale watching. If ever you want a humbling experience, that is it!!!

    3. I’m sorry for your loss too. Gosh….. that’s terrible :(

      Keeping busy, doing what you’ve been doing is a good way to go. Although not family, your co-workers and people you interact with are definitely a good support network that you’ll miss once you’ve left. I do miss the banter with co-workers on occasion.

      Check out meetup.com or interest groups outside of work. Early retirement can and will get lonely if you don’t proactively reach out to new people before leaving.

  22. Congratulations on hitting the 5 year mark! While your topics and subject matter vary, each post seems to be well thought out, methodical and exudes the vision that you have painted for yourself so clearly! Please keep the articles coming!

  23. This is great Sam. I’ve decided to forego corporate opportunities and to start my own consulting business once I leave the military this summer. We have our financial ducks in order to be able to buy our house and I have a nice retirement check and health care, so we’re ready to take some risk.

    If things don’t work out, I can always get a job later!

  24. Sam, congrats on the continued impressive progress towards your goals!

    Apologies if you’ve already posted on this topic elsewhere an I’ve missed it, but re: your growing “problem” of what to do with the excess investment income that’s pooling up around you (at increasing rates!) – have you considered charitable / philanthropic avenues?

    Maybe not right now, but as a target for when you’re 10 years older and there’s an even more ludicrous amount of compounding investment returns flowing all around you. What’s your version of Bill Gates / Gates Foundation type thinking?

    You seem like a perfect candidate for this kind of thing. You’re stealth wealthy, you’re not planning on ramping up your lifestyle to burn more money as you bring it in, and you’re very strategic about deploying your capital. It’d be challenging and rewarding for you (I think?)

    Food for thought / 10 year plan kind of thinking?

  25. “Rich or poor, never forget your WHY.” Absolutely so true!!! If I didn’t know my why, the sacrifices might make me feel miserable…like it’s watching the slowest paint ever dry. I told my friend yesterday after I got a particularly snide email from someone who is important in my careers, “don’t stress just save.” It’s going to be my new motto. I’m going to hashtag that shiz every day. #dontstressjustsave

  26. Graham @ Reverse The Crush

    Great post, Sam! I really enjoyed reading your perspective after 5 years of financial independence. I also think it’s great that you mentioned your WHY.

    My case for reaching FI is different in that I am not necessarily motivated by starting a family. My dream has always been to work on my own terms from the comfort of my home or a coffee shop. I am a little bit of an introvert in person and I find that being by myself recharges me. On the other hand, spending time in large groups drains me.

    Instead of being an employee, all I dream about is waking up early to make a coffee and work on managing my investment portfolio and blog from the comfort of my desk at home. I don’t want to rush in the morning. I just want the fulfillment, freedom and flexibility from that lifestyle. In my vision I can see myself blogging, investing, spending time with family and friends, travelling, and exercising to fill up the extra time. Further, there are so many additional luxuries to FI such as having more time to enjoy and prepare healthier food.

    Maybe I’ll need more than that someday. Perhaps a family would be more fulfilling. However, at this point, all I know is that being away from the corporate office makes me a better person. It truly helps me appreciate people more. Other than the reasons mentioned above, the other part of my WHY is the challenge and process of achieving your goals. Having something to work towards makes life more purposeful.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  27. Well, in my opinion, one of the key types of mindset for living longer and happy is having long-term goals!
    I hope you can achieve all your goals! I will do my best to achieve mine!

    Keep up the good work.

  28. Ten Factorial Rocks

    Great post Sam. I vividly remember the late night diaper changes, no sleep days and having major power point presentations next morning, job change, relocation and multiple doctor visits, all in the first year after my son was born. My wife was also working then and it was stressful. Somehow, we muddled through those days and lived to tell the tale! You have the freedom to be a SAHD now that I didn’t then. Sometimes, I wish my son was a baby now (instead of nearing teen years) as I can now afford to leave my job and be with him always during the adorable first few years of his life. Fatherhood is a great experience that simply has no parallels.

    1. Great job U2 pushing on through that first year while both working! I can only imagine the stress, thrill, tiredness, and excitement!

      I’m really, really hoping that with both of us not working, the first several years will be easier. But I’m sure it’s going to be brutally hard and trying All the same.

  29. Ms. Conviviality

    My best friend has daughters who are 3 and 8 years old. She acknowledges that her daughters` views of life are much different than what she and her husband grew up with in lower/middle income households. They moved from Florida to Switzerland when their oldest daughter was 2 because her husband was offered the career opportunity he had dreamt about. Moving to Switzerland meant that my friend would need to be a stay at home parent due to the school`s schedule which required kids to go home for lunch. That was ok since her husband’s salary is more than enough to take care of family expenses. However, my friend feels like she is missing out on an opportunity to show her daughters how to be strong and independent women because all they’ve seen is mom who`s always home. During a recent visit with the 8 year old I shared how her mom was a successful career woman with not just one college degree but also an MBA that she earned while working full time. The 8 year old seemed perplexed and asked if i was joking. The girls also attend an international school where tuition is $30,000 annually per child. Of course, most of her classmates parents have the means to go on spectacular family vacations multiple times a year. Given that my friend’s husband also loves traveling they go on great trips as well. So in her daughters eyes it’s normal to travel all over the place. My friends worked hard to achieve what they have due to wanting more than what they experienced while growing up. They worry that in the future their daughters will lack the drive to work towards careers goals since life is easy for them. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea for the kids to see parents working hard.

    1. You bring up a great topic that I definitely will be discussing in the future. How do we get our kids to adopt a strong work ethic, when everything is relatively easy growing up?

      Showing that mom and dad still work hard every day is one such way. Leading by example is so much better than telling people what to do. I plan to stay as fit and sharp. If my son sees me wake up by 6 AM every morning to work, then maybe he’ll know the importance of hard work as well.

      My actual fear is being too gung ho and making him feel inadequate. I gotta chill more!

      1. Ms. Conviviality

        I imagine that you’ll be a great dad since you seem to be really thoughtful and hands on. Based on what I’ve noticed with my best friend’s family and my brother’s family (boys are 6 and 7 now) is that the first two years were really stressful for the parents since both parents were working and when the baby came they now needed to fit baby duties into their lives. This took away time from exercise and other stress-relieving outlets they enjoyed previously. The wives started to feel fat and on top of feeling exhausted from late night breast feedings the romantic part of the relationships disappeared for a while. The topic of “divorce” actually came up in one of the relationships. I’m happy to say that both families are doing really well now that the kids are older. The reason that I think they made it through ok was because the husbands were understanding of how much work their wives were putting into taking care of the baby and actually helped with baby duties too. I really believe that this was why the marriages survived because when I was in my twenties I had a guy friend that I would take Saturday morning hikes with. These 1 hour+ hikes were good times to chat on just about anything. He was 18 years older so he had lots of information to share. One piece of advice he gave me was to “not ignore the husband once the kids are born”. I don’t know exactly how much baby duty he took on when he had kids but if his focus was on what he was missing out on while his wife’s focus was, rightfully, on the kids then I could see why they divorced.

        1. It’s good advice b/c once the baby is born, 100% of the attention goes to the baby versus 100% to the husband in the past. Fathers of newborns WILL feel neglected, even though he understand the baby does need massive attention. It’s just human nature to feel a little unloved after being loved for so long.

          Bottled up resentment is the biggest marriage killer. My advice for mothers is to simply send positive messages of reassurance if the father is full committed to staying up all night, changing diapers, swaddling, burping, bottle feeding, etc right with the mother. All she has to do is to say “you are doing an amazing job, thank you” just as he is telling her the same thing.

          Everybody just needs a little bit of recognition for their hard work once in a while that’s all. A lot of fathers will physically and emotionally suffer in silence. Men are taught not to share their vulnerability. But not being vulnerable is a recipe for disaster b/c it’s hard to read men’s feelings too.

  30. Save Splurge Deny Debt - Cameron

    Well I went ahead and copied and pasted some of this and printed it out. Sticking in my cube t work to just remind me of what I am shooting for. Thanks for sharing.

    Being a dad is the coolest thing ever. Totally changes you in so many great ways. I loved being up late in the night cleaning baby bottles and holding the little monster while he was sleeping. Can’t wait to have the freedom to have either me or his mom to stay home and be with him more!

  31. Absolutely — family is everything and my motivation for all I do. You’ll be a great Dad no matter if you have to work or not — it’s all about priorities and putting family before everyday work.

    You have definitely brought some proof to the preachings about the need to get over your fears and take that critical first step into the unknown. Thanks for the great insight! I’ll be reaching a critical point soon in my career when I’ll need to make a decision to stay or choose another path. You’ve definitely helped me face some of my concerns/fears head-on. Now if I can only get this side-hustle off the ground…

    1. No problem Greg! In a very big way, the higher you get, the harder it is to leave because of the responsibility, money, and “prestige” that comes with longevity.

      You might get to a point where you were so successful that you may never leave! Try and embrace mediocrity in the workplace. It’s great for helping decide to retire early.

  32. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    Great to read the reflections of someone further into this journey. Too many FIRE bloggers disappear post-retirement (too busy with their great lives to write about it, I guess!) Congrats on five years!

    1. Or they go down in flames and have to get another job and are to embarrassed to continue blogging.

      1. Any fire bloggers you can think of that have disappeared? None really come to mind, although Jacob from early retirement extreme, went back to work at a quantitative finance shop years ago already.

  33. This is so encouraging. I’m a little bummed that I missed the early boat, but we’re well on our way now. So, soon enough.

    We even started blogging about it, and it’s something that I really enjoy. And look forward to continuing as we move toward our FIRE days.

    MrsWoW has started a company that she loves running, and I find myself more interested in helping her build her company than doing my day job. And your last paragraph there is truly what it’s all about.

    About a year ago I was unemployed for a while, and ended up babysitting our niece for a week. It was so great to be able to just take her to the park and enjoy my time with her, opposed to rushing around at a job that’s not fulfilling. It cemented why we’re on this path, and we’re hoping to be mostly there by the time we have kids of our own.

    Thanks for the glimpse into the future!

  34. FIRECracker

    Love this post! I’ve only been blogging for 10 months and don’t have the experience that you have, so tweaking the trolls is still fun for me, but having been retired for 2 years, it’s very true that early retirement gets easier as time goes on.

    I’m a bit surprised by your increase in risk aversion though. Don’t get me wrong, it totally makes sense, as I’m pretty risk averse myself. BUT I would’ve thought that once your passive side incomes exceeded your expenses, you can basically go 90/10 with your investments without worrying about it. At least that’s what other bloggers who are making a killing with their blog are doing. What’s the reason for going more conservative?

    1. Probably because I’ve seen the Asian financial crisis in 1997,.com bubble bust in 2000, and the housing bust in 2008 to 2009. So based on my history of investing, I know the good times don’t last forever. But I hope it’s different this time, but somehow I feel it never is. I’m traumatized, I admit! There were times during the downturn swear I never thought I would be able to make it back. So now that we are way beyond previous peak, I’m just going to take it easy now.

      I’ve noticed a lot of bullish people who all seem to be under 35 years old and feel they just can’t lose because they’ve just done so well in the bull market so well.

      Finally, let’s say you hypothetically have $10 million,and you make a 5% return. $500,000 a year should be enough to live a comfortable lifestyle.

  35. Awesome post Sam. 5 years out- Kudos. In most businesses you would not be vested in your 401K match….so I guess you can take that to the bank.

    My whole motivation for early retirement is my son. He is 2 years old now and the earliest I imagine retiring is 46 years old. He will be 12 which is right when he will be going to middle school, his body will be changing, and he will be most likely to be picked on. I figure it will be a good time to be present.

    Why not retire earlier? Well I moved to San Fran and need 10 years to vest in my retirement.

    1. Sounds like a plan! Why do you think you will most likely be picked on? That makes me sad.

      I plan to confront any parent who lets their kids get out of control. I firmly believe 70% or higher of behavior is due to good or bad parenting.

      1. Sam, that last comment is something you’ll likely change your mind on once you become a parent. Not many parents (certainly of more than one child) still believe that they have that much influence over their children’s behaviour!

  36. Sam,

    Lmao!!! I’d bet you a hundred bucks that by the time your kid is 6 months old you will feel the need to get some part time consulting gig or anything that will get you out of the house.

    Your 5 year anniversary is fitting because your going to have to go through another 5 years of crying, poop, and sleep deprivation before you even get to see them play their first soccer game.

    Don’t get me wrong, kids are worth it, but I get the sense your almost romanticizing the fact that you get to get up at night and change diapers and get them back to sleep. Believe me, there is nothing romantic about it.

    Just my 2 cents, Thanks, Bill

    1. I bet you are right! Wonderful reaction. Glad I could make you laugh.

      I’m always going to have a two or three hour a day outlet to consult, coach tennis, or whatever. But I certainly don’t want to be 10 hours a day away from my kid. We shall see!

      Everything in my mind is a fantasy. And then I try my best to make that fantasy come true. That’s just how I’m wired.

      Related: Create an Abundance Mindset To Grow Your Life

  37. This is a very interesting topic. I feel I have already reached financial freedom but I continue at my corporate job because I still like it. However it sucks a lot of time in my day to day and I have a growing need of spending more time with my family. So my determination is to quit the corporate job in a year and a half, when my older son becomes 8 years old. I see this age as the starting point of a period that is critical for kids’ character building and their ability to do and share a growing number of experiences with you. So that’s my ultimate cut-off date, no matter how much I still enjoy my job. Enjoying my kids to the fullest in a critical period of their lives is more important to me. And I am sure it will open new paths of self-consciousness and personality development for myself. Not much to lose, lots to gain – an obvious choice!

  38. Danielle@wenthere8this.com

    Oh how I dream of early retirement. While I have always been a saver and pretty frugal, I didn’t really buckle down and start working towards ER until a couple years ago. I do get frustrated from time to time because I feel like it is taking too long. I have started a blog on the side that gives me an outlet where I can work on my passions after my day job is over. I would love to make that my full time job, but I’m not quite there yet!

  39. Hey Sam, I loved reading this post. I’m nearing 4 years of early retirement this June.

    It’s been such a blessing being able to stay at home with my kids these past few years. It hasn’t always been easy (never is with kids), and with that humility as well. I think you’re going to enjoy the challenge yourself one day soon. :) There’s no one best answer when it comes to parenting. It’s an art!

    Having said that, I do wonder what could have been if I had stayed with my company, or pursued my career further. It’s quite feasible I could have had another million or 2 to my name at this point, but I’m content knowing this opportunity cost and what I’ve chosen… family will always be more important than finances.

    I do believe I will have additional opportunities to generate significant income in the future doing exactly what I love to do (thanks for being a model for that!) which includes helping others find their path to freedom. Until then, I’m going to savor exactly what I have now.

    Time to take the kids to watch the Smurf’s movie for a nice cost-effective matinee! I’m pretty sure we’ll get the whole theater to ourselves too since it’s Monday. ;)

    1. That’s awesome about the matinee movie and a theater being empty Michael! I would love to be there someday soon.

      There’s always one more dollar to Mac. Having another million or 2 million doesn’t really matter. Just keep your wife working! :)

  40. Congratulations on the 5 year anniversary!

    My toddler is certainly a big part of why I finally got our financial house in order. Having said that, I know I would not have enjoyed spending all day with her everyday when she was very little, and I am glad that I had a job during that time. I liked having hours of the day away from her, surrounded by other adults, and adult conversation. As she gets older, and resembles a person more than a lump, I find that I want to spend more time with her, and now I look forward to waving my corporate job goodbye.

    1. Thanks. Very interesting feedback! Is your desire to be away from your baby after a while simply because motherhood is so difficult with the feeding, crying, changing and the loneliness? I can totally understand if so. A lot of sleepless nights.Did your partner and end up staying at home well you went to work? Or did you hire some help in the family so that both of you guys could go to work?

      1. Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions

        It’s interesting that Mrs. BITA made that comment. My husband and I both worked when the kids were little and they went to a wonderful family day care right near the school where we worked. They LOVED going there – and had a wonderful little “family” outside of our family. We both enjoyed our jobs and we got to spend summers and vacations with our kids – so it wasn’t all year round. I think I was a much better Mom because of the balance I had of enjoying my work (and growing professionally). My job allowed me to be at all of their games and activities – so maybe that was different than other jobs. Just remember that you don’t have to be with your child all the time to be a super dad. You still have to do things that make you happy and fulfilled too (outside of just being a happy dad and a great husband!)

      2. No, it didn’t have anything to do with the level of difficulty of motherhood. It had to do with the fact that (to me at least), an infant, even one that I loved enough to take a bullet for, is fundamentally boring. They don’t do much. They aren’t the best conversationalists. I just needed to be amongst adults. I needed a balance between time that I spent with my child and time that I did not. I would go so far as to speculate that I was a better mother for not always being present – it made me less likely to take my time with her for granted, and I was more patient when I was with her.

        About my partner – both of us work full time jobs, so our daughter goes to daycare. She loves it there, and has developed social skills from interacting with her peers that we would have been hard pressed to teach her at home. She has learned to deal with being pushed, and having her toys taken away from her and the other mean stuff that little kids do to each other as a matter of course. She has learned that crying isn’t the answer, and neither is hitting. She has learned to say a forceful no, or to just walk away, and I am immensely proud of how she has learned to handle herself around her peers.

        1. Thanks for your insights and feedback! I totally forgot about day care, can you believe it? I’ve just had this default setting where my wife and I would just stay at home and take care of our child. But those daycare benefits you mention certain way or intriguing.

          Let’s say you didn’t have a full-time job or had a online business you could work from home, would you still send your child to day care? Also, your husband can also stay at home.

          1. You can also send your child to pre-school for just a few days a week (9-2 was ours, for example). My wife stayed home but we sent them to preschool anyway. It’s not the most frugal option, but for a few hundred a month, per kid, it was a nice break away from the kids, and the kids had fun as well during the day. They learned a little, but I am not going to over sell it. They learned way more academics and skills once they entered ordinary kindergarten at the free public school.

            1. Sounds like a good balance. A little bit here, a little bit there. I could use a 4 hour reprieve for adult time and writing time.

              Ever worried about your kid getting sick by other kids? Or is there a strict rule that if your kid is sick, you stay home? Seems to make sense.

              * no diarrhea
              * fever free for 24+ hours

              Sounds like there is a balance to expose kids early to bacteria and other sick kids to build immunity.

          2. Sam—–Aside from a play group a few hours a week my kid was Never in Day care and certainly didn’t suffer from it. I was an administrator of one of the largest daycare providers in my state so let me assure you that children get more than sufficient “socialization”, problem solving skills, etc in the Home. She was also Homeschooled all the way through and will be graduating from university with her MArch as an architect. No problems with socialization whatsoever. Long hours in daycare are not optimal so keep your dream of being with your baby. Moms and Dads are the Best teachers out there! All the best! Great column and, as usual, interesting comments from others.

            1. Thanks for sharing your perspective Mary!

              It sounds like a balance of daycare and family time sounds best.

              There doesn’t seem to be a “right answer” to raising a child. It’s like personal finances.. whatever works best for you.

              I can see how views can be very different from each parent to another, as is each pediatrician to another.

          3. “Let’s say you didn’t have a full-time job or had a online business you could work from home, would you still send your child to day care? Also, your husband can also stay at home”

            In this universe I would still send my child to daycare, but maybe I’d pick a schedule like three times a week, half a day.

        2. I’d wager that a large % of parents would agree with Mrs. BITA’s sentiments – at least if they’re being honest with themselves. Women especially (fine, call me sexist) are programmed by society to feel GUILTY if they don’t constantly rave about how amazing it is to be home with their kids. But man, babies are rough to deal with. I can’t blame any new mother who misses their old life and career.

          Babies (not toddlers, babies) are often a net drain on your sanity and quality of life. They put immense strain on parents – and on their marriages. Having kids certainly added a TON of pressure to my own marriage, and accelerated the already-present decline towards eventual divorce. Things change immediately once a kid arrives, and that rate of decline accelerates in a hurry. Anyone who thinks having kids might “save” a marriage with “pre-existing condition” type problems is delusional – kids will just speed up the decline.

          Babies have moments of awesomeness and cuteness – and that’s what you see in a parent’s Facebook / Instagram feed. But all those snippets of cuteness are countered by the majority of less-than-awesome events you DON’T see posted on Facebook. Systemic sleep deprivation. Constant feeding and cleanup activities. And dramatic reduction in time spent doing any other activities you used to enjoy – enriching activities, adult interactions, mentally challenging pursuits, etc.

          I **love** my kids – and have never believed they’re anything but the best things that have ever happened to me overall. BUT it gets a lot easier to think that way once they get past age 2/3. That’s when they become “small people” that you can have richer interactions (and fun!) with.

          Babies are evil. :)

          1. Yeah speaking of divorce here’s a pro-tip: when you come home and your wife has made spaghetti again and your kids have sauce all over the place you don’t say “hey maybe you could make tacos tomorrow, you know, something different”. You say “oh wow! Spaghetti! Awesome! That smells great! I can’t even rember the last time we had spaghetti!”
            Learn from my mistakes cause once you have kids and sleep deprivation a conversation about tacos can turn ugly real fast.

            1. “a conversation about tacos can turn ugly real fast”

              HAHAHA!!! That sounds like a line out of a Tarantino movie. I can almost see the movie trailer now… :)

          2. This is such awesome feedback. Thank you!

            OK, so I will simply mentally prepare for 3 years of difficult times, maximum patience testing, and endless free passes with my partner and I!

            I kinda go through these 4 year time frame blocks anyway where anything I choose to pursue, I will pursue with vigor for 4 years before reassessing. It’s probably because high school and college was 4 years each.

            BTW, we still need to coordinate something right? Shoot me an e-mail!

  41. I fear the hardest thing for me in retirement would be establishing and sticking to a routine. When you’re retired you have freedom. For me, I think that could result in laziness. I already am so much more productive on the weekdays rather than the weekends in terms of reading, writing, household things, errands. I have a mini retirement every weekend, but don’t do much and feel guilty about it sometimes, lol.

  42. Thank you very much for sharing your perspective, Sam. I often think about what it will be like to retire early one day, so it’s great to read your thoughts after 5 years.

    Your last paragraph about being a dad describes me to a tee. That is exactly the type of dad I strive to be and want nothing more than to be able to spend more time with my kids. At 1 and 3, they are growing quickly and it breaks my heart to leave them for work every day, especially when my 3-year-old begs and pleads with me not to go. I am doubling down and working hard on growing my side income to hopefully expedite the process of me being able to at least work from home, at a minimum. I envy your position of being able to be with your future children from the beginning.

    To answer your question, having kids absolutely caused me to focus more on improving my health and our family’s financial well-being. In fact, becoming a dad has inspired me to become better in all areas of my life and to become a better person, in general. I want to be my kids’ hero and be the best possible example and role model I can be.

    1. Hi Cody,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. Congrats for being blessed with two kids! So awesome they are so motivating for you to earn and save as much as possible to take care of the family.

      Best, Sam

  43. Hey Sam, this post resonates really well with me because it is the exact goal/life I am reaching for. Reading your post felt like it one of my posts but like 10 years from now :)

    I just recently hit $3k in passive income per month and feel I need to triple that to be able to live the life I want. I feel like I am doing everything I can possibly do to help get me there faster but its just not coming fast enough. :|

    1. This is very similar to how I felt while reading this post, although I think it’ll be a few more years for me! Curious to hear what you’re using to generate your passive income. Bonds, CDs, rental properties, etc…?

    2. Yup – My goal is ~100k/yr or 8k/mo in passive income for retirement. I got a late start but now that I can save over $100k/year, I’m hoping to achieve that goal in the next 9-11 years. So far my rentals are my best “passive” income although they still require more hands on work than any of my other investments since I’m managing myself.

    3. Alexander, congratulations for hitting the $3000 passive income mark! What is your target number? With $3-$4000 a month in passive income,Just be happy to know that you will never starve!

      I basically had to achieve about $70,000 a year and I wouldn’t starve in San Francisco.So long as you don’t live in San Francisco or New York or any other crazy expensive city, Your $3000 dollars a month should rock!

      How old are you again?

  44. I love the comment about risk. I’m not early retired, and actually not even pursuing it. I am however 35 and am close to hitting financial numbers that will support our spending via passive income. I feel the same pull you mention to take less risk the higher I go. I think its because instead of seeing the potential to earn those years going forward, I see the potential to waste the years I have already utilized. It’s a bit of a sunk cost fallacy, but it’s a very real feeling. I can only imagine in retirement it would feel stronger since you’ve left the support of a stable paycheck behind. Not having to return to working on someone elses terms I’m sure is a strong motivator.

    1. Yes, it was weird not seeing any income at the bank account that first day of the month.But afterSeveral missed paychecks, you get used to not having that steady income stream anymore. You will naturally figure out ways to make do with what you have, And try to build more overtime.

      And eventually, you will forget you ever once had a paycheck. I realized this about several months in when I noticed in my Twitter feed that people were excited they got paid today. I have this,”oh yeah I used to get a paycheck” moment.

      You are blessed with not feeling burnout at age 35. I was a really burnt out at age 32, and told myself that I would try to hold on until age 40. Luckily, I discovered blogging, which accelerated the process. But I was preparedTo grind it out for another eight years!

  45. Thanks for the timely article. As I contemplate soon to leave the work force at age 40 for ER, I honestly have no hesitation. We’ve done the budget, run the math, and feel very comfortable with our numbers.

    I am not the type of person that needs a 40 hour plus job to bog me down each week. I am happy hiking, enjoying the beautiful weather in TN, and watching my kids grow up. My blog is also starting to get visitors beyond my grandmother (love you grandma), so that is a future plus too.

    I truly believe we will experience the bliss that comes with number one, early retirement gets easier over time. We have a neighborhood HOA pool so I can’t wait to take a dip during the week when all the worker bees are gone and the beautiful pool is mostly vacant. Ahh, I can taste the rewards of early retirement already. I’ll keep you updated on my severance/layoff proceedings.

    1. I wish you the best of luck! I thought the same way before negotiating my severance, But when it was time to leave, I had a whole bunch of second-guessing. Things generally always seem to be easier said than done.Please deftly do keep me posted! And please feel free to ask if you have any questions regarding severance stuff.Oh yeah

  46. Congrats on 5 year anniversary.

    Please don’t retire from blogging.

    Love your content and research.

  47. Insist On The Truth

    Love your article…as always.
    This statement stood out the most because it’s so true…” Being naive allows you to take more risks! “
    I just turned 31 and Im beginning to feel stuck and it’s frightening. Im applying to a MBA program at Wake Forest (local) and looking to break into consulting after graduating. I also have 3 rentals making about $2350 in income per month so the rentals pay for themselves and I use the extra for expenses so unable to save much. Right now I am only making $35k in my current job (10% 401k) so not too much extra income to invest right now. I eventually want to be like you and retire early. Sitting at a desk, sneaking phone calls, etc is “Wack” lol. Do you have any advice for me?

    1. Early retirement and financial independence is all about generating extra income streamsTo accelerate your savings goal and passive income goal.

      Your rental income is awesome compared to your day job income. Great job! If you can add a side hustle, and work on it for the next3 to 5 years, I’m pretty sure there’ll be a incremental benefits to your financial picture.

  48. “The day you decide you have enough is the day you’ll catch yourself smiling for no good reason.” I love this quote. I think most people will realize at one point or another that “enough” is actually far less than they think – and this realization makes early retirement so much easier to attain.

  49. Congratulations! I wasn’t sure you’ll be able to stay retired because you were so driven. Great job mellowing out.
    I find that it got easier as the years go by as well. I’ve been retired for almost 5 years and this year is the best so far. Being a stay-at-home dad was awesome, but I’m really glad our kid is in kindergarten now. Changing diapers and taking care of a baby was easy for me. The hard part was keeping my temper when he got older. Our kid is testing me all the time. Maybe you’ll get lucky and have a calm kid… Good luck on the next 5 years. It’s going to be a huge difference when you have a kid.
    Great job on your blog income as well. I hope to do half as well someday.

    1. Thanks Joe! Yes, it definitely went through a phase whereAnd Just couldn’t sit still and relax. https://www.financialsamurai.com/its-impossible-to-stay-retired-once-you-retire-early/

      But after five years, early retirement is much easier for sure. And with family, there’s a lot more purpose as well.

      I pray for patience every single day. I know kids will test our mettle. My wife and I have a trick where we tell ourselves before hand that all is forgivenTo anticipate the eventual stress and tensionOf things to come.

      Your site has plenty of upside on the income front. I’m sure it’s going to continue to grow!

  50. Financial Panther

    Terrific point with the risk part. You see it so often with high income earners buying really expensive homes early on in life. Looking at it from the outset, it seems extremely risky and it works under the assumption that whatever you’re making then is the lowest amount you’ll ever make. As we know, your income isn’t guaranteed.

    Lawyers are an interesting example. The attrition rate in big law is huge (only a small percentage of associates will make it to partner). Big law is also where the highest salaries are paid. That means that most new big law associates have a good chance that their income will actually decrease or stagnate a ton somewhere around 3 – 6 years out of law school!

    You can see an example with any lawyer who leaves a law firm and takes a job in government or at a law school. Think of even famous lawyers you’ve heard of who work for the government. They have to take a huge pay cut in order to do that.

    Just a good reason not to take on too much debt risk like that early on in your career.

    1. A lot of people do recommend buying the maximum house you can afford because the chances of you making more money overtime is high. Thanks to inflation, Things usually work out over the long run. But as we have seen in the past,There can be some rocky times. Have 30% of the value of your house in the form of a 20% down payment and 10% savings buffer, and you should be good to go!

      Your law your example is a good one, because I thought I was going to be able to make managing director one day. But I flamed out at age 34, and severed my income. So many risks when I look back upon things.

      I guess everything is a risk. It just depends on how bullish you feel about your career and your future.I’m a super optimist, which has def gotten me in trouble before.

      How long do you plan to stay in big law for?

      1. Financial Panther

        I left big law last year and went into govt. Only lasted three years in big law, which is about the time most people trickling out. Since I left, every single other associate in my group left as well (the last associate in my group just left this month). I assume that everyone took significant pay cuts upon leaving. My entire group is now made of entirely new associates basically.

        1. Cool. What was the reason for departure? Is it an “up or out” culture? I know the work load is intense. How many hours a week were you working?

          I thought I would only be able to last 5 years in banking. Moving to a competing firm and to SF helped elongate my career to 13 years before being unable to take it anymore.

        2. Same here. Half my class was gone in the first year, and now there are only two of us left now (out of 8 in my office). I’m four years in, and still holding on. But I know I only have about 4-5 years left in me.

          I’d say about 75% of new associates who start at my firm buy a $70k or more car within their first year–I don’t know if it’s a rite of passage here in LA or what, but I’m still happily driving my $15k 350z that I bought used. I paid off my law school debt instead during my first year, and recently had a conversation with a partner (who is probably pulling in low seven figures per year) who told me that she was excited to have just paid off her law school debt… It’s pretty unreal to see the financial decisions people make when times are “too good.”

    2. Dood, el Farbe

      “The attrition rate in big law is huge (only a small percentage of associates will make it to partner). Big law is also where the highest salaries are paid. That means that most new big law associates have a good chance that their income will actually decrease or stagnate a ton somewhere around 3 – 6 years out of law school!

      You can see an example with any lawyer who leaves a law firm and takes a job in government or at a law school. ”

      Financial Panther: Yep, significantly reduced, stagnate, or go away entirely. Of the 85-90% who aren’t in biglaw after 7 years, how many fail to land safely at in-house or a fed/local gov’t position? I have no way to know for sure, but think it may be a significant number.

      Even though law school apps are down the last few years, I’m still dumbfounded by the large numbers still paying full boat to end up with 180K in debt to go to a TJSL or Cooley or Infilaw system level school. They have no shot at biglaw or really any job that’s going to pay enough to permit them to pay off that debt the way you did (I read your “About” section – let no one say that you don’t have every right to be proud of your accomplishments, and I’m sure your folks are very proud of you, too!).

  51. Financial Coach Brad

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts – I agree with all of the points. I’ll celebrate three years of early retirement this July. So far, so good. :) A bit different than I expected, but not in a bad way, just a different way. I’m looking forward to 50 more years of retirement! :)

  52. Jim @ Route To Retire

    Sam, I think you’ll do well with kids regardless of how much or little money you have. You always find a way to take care of your kid. But I will say that the motivation to do better weighed on me quite a bit. The reason wasn’t specifically because of the money, but I hate having to work instead of being at home with my daughter.

    I’ll be out of the corporate world in 3-8 years depending on which direction we choose to go and I literally count the days. Unfortunately, my daughter will be as old as 14 when I reach FI and leave my job, but it’s better than nothing.

    On the other side of the coin, I continue to work on becoming healthier (food and exercise), but I think that one seems to be more about me than my daughter. I want to make sure that when I quit my job, I’m in good shape and can actually enjoy life and do the things I want to do.

    — Jim

    1. Hi Jim,

      Being able to leave the workforce by the time your daughter turns 14 is awesome! Although I hear teenagers can be quite a handful.

      I just keep on thinking about trying to be as healthy as possible so I can live as long as possible to spend as much time with my family. If there is any incentive to eat better and workout more, it has to be when you have your first child!


      1. I have the same motivation for FI – to be able to spend time with my young children. A part of me wonders though, what effect that will have on them if they don’t see their dad working hard, but rather always being available and “free”? Do you think it’s important for children to see their parents work hard to develop that ethic and drive?

        1. Jim @ Route To Retire

          Haha – just noticed the MartyMcFly name… nice!

          Not sure if you were addressing me or FS, but I personally think it’s the opposite. Ethic and drive are something that’s built into a person. Just because someone leaves their corporate job, doesn’t mean they’re going to sit on their butt all day long.

          My daughter is already starting to know how hard I work, but I’m also teaching her the importance of working smarter and not always harder. If you’re already on the path to FI and are a hard-working guy, as much as you’ll want to just sit on a beach somewhere, ambition will take over and you’ll be working again… except this time it will be on your own terms.

          Your kids will see this and will probably work harder and smarter just to follow the path you created (unless you just give them everything and then all bets are off!). :-)

          — Jim

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