Liebster Awards – 10 Questions for MrFireStation Answered

liebster_award_badges was recently called out in a generous posting by focused on bestowing the “Liebster Award” on a fellow small blogger.  The Liebster Award, which is a pass-a-long recognition of seemingly unknown origin, is used by small bloggers pay to pay forward a little visibility to other small bloggers (less than 200 followers).  Captain Sparky here at has been active for only about 8 months, so I was excited to get the nod from someone else and pass it along.

Unlike other awards, this one comes with rules and a job to do … (from It Started In LA)


I’ve completed requirement #1 – but putting the Liebster Award logo on this site.  Next I’ll tackle the 10 questions requirement that come with requirement #2.  Unfortunately, I’m having trouble with questions #3-5 because I can’t seem to find many blogs (like mine) that have less than 200 followers!  It seems that all of the blogs I follow (or folks on Twitter) have amassed thousands of followers for the most part.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to split my Liebster response into two posts.  Sorry if I am breaking some sacred bond, but finding small blogs is going to take some time.  (Open to your suggestions if you have them!)

Liebster Award Questions for’s Captain Sparky …

1. Why did you start your blog?  Planning to retire a couple weeks before you turn 50 years old is kind of an unusual thing. I’ve calculated that less than 2% of people do it.  Like a lot of people who are interested, I’ve searched around the Internet to find stories about other people’s journeys.  It inspires me and helps me plan.  I’ve found that there are a good forums, but people don’t get into a lot of depth.  I thought a blog format would help us tell our story in a little detail, for someone else’s benefit.

2. What do you think is the best use of your money?  To “help others” would be the virtuous answer here, but I have probably put more emphasis on creating security and independence for myself and our family.  That said, we’ve then financially independent for a couple of years now, and we have pledged all of our salary over our last year of work for future philanthropy.  I have a very good job, so it will be quite a significant amount of money to give away thoughtfully..  I call it our “one more year fund” – if you haven’t heard about what we are doing, here is a link.  It’s our most popular post by far!  Even Ben Franklin did something similar.

3. What would a perfect day look like for you?  I always think that the perfect day is divided three ways: a little work, a little relaxation, and a little fun.  While I am as lazy as the next person, I always feel better if I get a couple things done each day – even on the weekend.  Especially things that stay done and don’t have to be redone every day (like making the bed).  I also like a little relaxation each day – time to read a book, listen to music, or work on a personal project. Lastly, A perfect day include some fun – going to a movie, attending an event, or hanging with friends.

4. If you could travel anywhere in the world (cost aside), where would it be and why?  I love to travel and have written about it quite a bit.  We have been fortunate to have traveled a lot over the last 20 years.  Not only am I closing in on all 50 states, but we have gone to Europe a few times and I have taken some work trips to Asia.  Travels have taken us from the Great Pyramids, the Roman Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, and Stonehenge. My wife and I put together a bucket list sometime ago and the top of mine is to see the Summer Olympic Games (Rio 2016?).

5. What is an experience that changed your life for the better?  I have had such a charmed life, I can’t think of a specific experience. One week in August 1989, I had a wonderful chain of events come together that proved to be a key inflection point in my life. That week, I was hired by a great company, accepted to graduate school (with full scholarship), and went for a long weekend to Chicago with my then wonderful girlfriend, who soon became my wonderful wife (exactly one year later to the day).  It was a real synchronicity of events – I was 23 years old and ready to take on the world filled with potential & promise.

6. If you’re going to die after dinner, what would your last meal be?  Probably a peanut butter sandwich, because I eat peanut butter sandwiches all of the time. That would be fitting, although I would enjoy a spicy paella with a lot of seafood and garlic bread even more.  (Cinnamon rolls and cornbread with real maple syrup would be great for breakfast that day) 😃

7. What is your favorite thing about the area in which you live?  We live in a beautiful part of a metro area in the Midwestern USA. The summers are gorgeous with water, parks, events, and sports.  We enjoy all four seasons – including a wonderful, snow-filled winter.  All of the seasons are unique and I look forward to having more time to soak it all in when early retirement comes (32 weeks from now!)

8. What would early retirement look like for you?  This is an answer I need to get good at articulating, since we are getting so close.  First, I am planning on doing interesting board work – both corporate and non-profit. I enjoy strategic planning and running a business and will continue to be involved with several organizations I am currently involved in.  It will be easy to devote more time to these, when I am not splitting my time with a full-time job, that takes priority.  Second, we will travel more – I have outlined a plan to travel once per season, about 5 weeks a year.  There will be different types of trips in each season, taking advantage of the beautiful times of the year when everyone else is working, or their kids are in school.  Third, our nest egg has grown large enough that managing it (and our taxes) has become a bit of a job.  I would also like to learn about real estate investing, so that will require some time.  Lastly, we will spend more time on philanthropy and look forward to helping others through our “one more fund” giving.  (I have a list of 150 other things that I would like to do, but I won’t bore you with all of those ideas!)

9. If you could fix one World problem, which one would you choose?  The desire of some to subjugate others by any means … criminal, military, political, or through economics.  All wrongs emanate from this single (unfortunately human) desire.  I am sure some of our philanthropic giving will be invested in organizations that fight against these challenges, or provide relief to those that are victimized by it.

10. If you’ve been to Alaska, but do you love about it?  Like many Americans, my view of Alaska came through a one-week cruise that we took a few years ago, with my wife’s parents.  I was struck by the scale of the vast wilderness and the beauty of the inside passage, wildlife, glaciers, and fjords.  I was struck by how far the ship could cruise into the evening, without passing a single light, indicating human habitation.  Serenely beautiful, indeed.

11. What one piece of advice would you like to give the world?  Measure yourself not by your accomplishments, but by the opportunities you create for your future.  Keep your focus on what’s next and how you can prepare yourself for it.   This was advice that I heard on a TV sitcom when I was a kid, but it always stuck with me.  I think it works equally well on and individual level and on a world level.

Captain Sparky’s Favorite Reads … and new Liebster Award Winners …


7 thoughts on “Liebster Awards – 10 Questions for MrFireStation Answered

  1. PB&J is probably the most frugal answer we’ve ever heard to the last meal question. 🙂 We so admire that you guys are saving your last year’s salary for charitable giving. We’re in such a rush to retire, we’ll be scrounging every cent we can earn! (Okay, not really — we do still give considerably — but what you’re doing is amazing.)


    1. Like us, you might find out when you get near the end of your workdays you are better off than you thought you were going to be. I’ve always noticed that money has a way of growing faster than our expectations and I hope the best for you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the answers! I agree that the PB sandwich is a very frugal answer. But I do love the one more year fund. It’s a very clever, meaningful contribution. Intentional finances are awesome and this is a perfect example!


    1. Thanks for the kind words – the fund is growing fast. The other day, my wife said (as she sometimes does), “thanks for going to work for us”. I said “I’m not – I’m working for philanthropy now, not for us”. It is a funny feeling and actually helping me deal with the typical work BS more easily as I wind down.


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