Welcome Neighbors! – Our Journey To FIRE

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I was honored to have our journey to FIRE (financial independence & retiring early) featured in our suburban magazine this month.  My friend, Samantha, suggested they interview me for a feature in their December issue because people that ridiculously walk away from a perfectly good career before they are 50 are pretty unusual.  🙂

I tried to use the opportunity to help people see that they, too, can reach FIRE with proper planning and diligence.  I believe that most people can retire 5, 10, or even 15 years before the average person in the United States (age 63) if they put their mind to it.

Even before the magazine came out, I saw my web page traffic spike and many of the new visitors were local.  Since these new readers might be new to our story, I thought I would take today’s post to reflect on the key milestones that got us to our FIRE escape back in 2016. 

I’ve posted hundreds of articles on this website over the last 4 years, but these give you the general story of how we reached and are enjoying financial independence & retiring early.

OUR GOAL:  The seeds of our FIRE journey started when we were still in our late 30s.  We were pretty good savers from early in our careers, but a former boss that was retiring suggested we save enough that we could ‘walkaway’ by age fifty.  Our new financial advisor thought that was a stretch, but we made that our age to shoot for.

OUR FINANCES:  Once you have a FIRE goal, you need to get the finances lined up to achieve it.  We had finished college with a lot of student loan and consumer debt.  Fortunately, we were quick to realize it was a problem and paid it all off in a few years.  After that, we aggressively sought to boost our annual savings rate by ‘banking our raises’ and keeping our lifestyle inflation in check.  It might seem impossible, but by saving half of your income, the math says you could retire in just 20 years.

OUR CONFIDENCE:  Planning for what we hope is a 40+ year retirement is fraught with a good deal of risk.  As they say, past returns are no guarantee of future returns.  While I consider myself our primary financial advisor, we also have a paid financial advisor to serve as an objective third-party.  On top of that, I spent a lot of time over my last few years working making sure that our assumptions were rigorously ‘pressure tested’ for risk.

OUR LIFESTYLE:  It’s one thing to be FI – financially independent – but what will you do with your time if you are RE – retired early?  That was an interesting part of our planning and there are a lot of good books and resources to help you plan.  People still ask me, “aren’t you bored?”  The fact is that I am as busy as ever – it’s a big wonderful world and there is a lot to do beyond going to a job.

OUR BREAK:  It’s an amazing experience to walk confidently into your bosses’ office and unexpectedly announce that you are not coming in anymore.  Some of the most-read articles that I’ve written are the ones that describe the experience of resigning, telling friends & colleagues, and leaving work for the last time.  At the time, I said that leaving was the “smartest, or stupidest thing I had ever done” – I remember my boss saying saying that he thought it was probably the smartest.

OUR LIFE NOW:  This blog is one-part personal finance and one-part early retirement lifestyle.  I try to balance articles between both topics, but I generally get more reaction on how we have adjusted to living our life of FIRE.  I guess this is because there are a lot of personal finance sites, but a relatively small number of people who have written about the experience of leaving work before their fiftieth birthday.  I’ve written updates on the activities that keep our life so busy and the overall experience of not working, which I’ve come to call my ‘kidulthood’.

If you are new at MrFireStation.com, hopefully you will find this story interesting and it will prompt you to get your own taste of FIRE. For the thousands of readers that have come to the site regularly since I launched it four years ago, I hope today’s post is a reminder of the key steps that lead to living a life of independence and autonomy.

What FIRE topics you would like to see covered in the future?

Image Credit: MrFireStation.com

3 thoughts on “Welcome Neighbors! – Our Journey To FIRE

  1. You’ve always been a celeb with me, Chief! Your clarity is excellent in laying out the path for folks to consider. Two thoughts for future posts: 1) Playing With FIRE (this is serious business; diligence is critical to succeed); 2) Watch Out For Backfires (Bitcoin is imploding as I write; speculation is for fun money, not serious plans). If this makes me sound like an old fogy, I’m a happily retired old fogy, who avoided many a pitfall along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, John – it was fun to get featured for something I did, rather than where I worked. I like your story suggestions. My Bitcoin investment is exactly what I paid for it in 2016. The price is 50x what my son paid 6 months earlier, but others are down -80%. Quite a crazy bubble!!


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