Monday, February 26, 2018

PF Chat: Financial Independence & Early Retirement

PF Chat: Financial Independence & Early Retirement
Good morning, good readers. This month we have another edition of our personal finance chat, and we again got very lucky with our guests.

Today we are hosting a conversation on Financial Independence and Early Retirement with JL Collins, Liz from the Frugalwoods, Brandon from Mad Fientist, Tanja from Our Next Life, as well as Kristy and Bryce from Millennial Revolution.

Let's get right to it.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Good morning/afternoon/evening, friends! πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  Hi, Tanja!

FireCracker:  Hello my FIRE peeps!

Done by Forty:  Kristy!

Mad Fientist:  Hey everyone!

Done by Forty:  Hey Brandon!

Liz Frugalwoods:  Hi!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I am just having my coffee, so apologies if I'm incoherent for a bit. πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  I'm right there with you, Tanja. Hi Liz! Congratulations! Will Littlewoods be joining? πŸ˜‰

Liz Frugalwoods:  Thank you! Yes indeed! She's in my lap :slightly_smiling_face: You've just reminded me I haven't had any coffee either... must go grab my thermos!

Mad Fientist:  Big congrats, Liz (and Nate)!

Liz Frugalwoods:  Thank you so much!

Done by Forty:  ☕

Wanderer:  Hey everyone!

Done by Forty:  Hi Bryce!

JL Collins:  Hi all!

Done by Forty:  Hi Jim!

Wanderer:  Heeey!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Full house! I'm stoked everyone made it.

FireCracker:  Ha ha, figures that JLCollins and Bryce don't have their pics set up. #Rebels

JL Collins:  Nobody wants to look at me. πŸ˜ƒ

Wanderer:  I can't be bothered to find a good picture of me.

Done by Forty:  For what it's worth, this chat's editor isn't smart enough to pull those photos into the 
post that comes from this chat anyway.

FireCracker:  Yes, let's blame technology πŸ˜›

Tanja, Our Next Life:  It's weird that Slack doesn't default to your pic from across channels.

Done by Forty:  Right? Sounds like an enhancement we should sell to them.

Mad Fientist:  It pulled mine from Gravatar, I think.

Wanderer:  I still don't understand Slack to be honest.

JL Collins:  Or DB40, close cousin of WD40 I assume?

Wanderer:  From what I can tell it's an overly complicated chatroom

Done by Forty:  Ha! @Jim. And yes, it's basically a 90's era chatroom.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  But with emojis!

Wanderer:  There are emojis?? ⛱

JL Collins:  Even I can do this one:  😊

Done by Forty:  Emojis are encouraged, if not outright required.

Wanderer:  ⋈

Tanja, Our Next Life:  (Can you tell none of us have jobs to go to, and we're happy to talk Slack features instead of FI?!)

Liz Frugalwoods:  Ok, am back with coffee.

Done by Forty:  Okay gang, let's do this thing!

In this chat, we're talking about the reality of financial independence and early retirement. There are a lot of bloggers writing about the journey to financial independence (ahem, like me), but not all that many who are already living an FI life, and know what it's really like. That's where you come in. πŸ˜ƒ

To start, what's your favorite part of being retired, or being financially independent?

Tanja, Our Next Life:  The fact that doing this thing at 9 am feels reeeeaaaally early. πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  Ha!

FireCracker:  Loving Mondays!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  (Kidding. Sort of.)

Wanderer:  Someone's cranky.

JL Collins:  The freedom to choose those things that appeal and to say no to those that don't

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I completely agree with Jim. Being able to say no to most things. And to say a huge, emphatic yes to things I really care about.

Liz Frugalwoods:  The ability to use my time as I want! And the ability to do work I find meaningful while at home with my children (who are both currently trying to crawl on me). For me, it is really all about being in control of my time!

Wanderer:  Seconding Jim. Absolute freedom to design your life the way you want to.

JL Collins:  I had to be up early today for the plumber anyway. Damn house.

FireCracker:  HA HA! Finding other FIRE peeps! Back when we were working, we had to be all hush hush about it. It's amazing when you find a community of supportive people who just "get it"

JL Collins:  But then I look at the "Shining Big Sea Waters" out my door. πŸ˜ƒ

Amen, FC!

FireCracker:  ✊

Done by Forty:  Yeah, the community of FIRE peeps seems like a big factor.

Wanderer:  Is that a fist-bump or are you punching someone?

FireCracker:  A little of of A, a little bit of B. It's a fist-bump to the face.

JL Collins:  Aimed at who, FC?

Was just listening to the ChooseFI podcast coming out Monday on Chautauqua. Almost the entire conversation is about the community. Therein lies the magic.

FireCracker:  Chautauqua is a perfect example of where we found our community. Now we know FI enthusiasts all over the world. We would've never met them had we continued working and only meeting people in our bubble. Community is not just there for support, but it's full of energetic go-getters who make you feel like you can do anything.

Liz Frugalwoods:  I guess I should also add that it's liberating not to worry about money. But I feel like the financial aspect is actually secondary.

JL Collins:  "'s liberating not to worry about money." Exactly. Plumber has to come, but it is only money, so not a problem.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  The community no doubt IS magic, and meeting people in real life for sure accelerated our progress. But it's also not most people's day to day experience (perhaps all of us here aside).

So I think it's great to have the community, but you also need your own vision of how you'll use this newfound free time in a purposeful way.

(Dying to know what Brandon has been typing for all this time!)

Mad Fientist:  It's funny Jim mentioned saying "No".  I just saw this tweet from James Clear recently and it really summed up my first 1.5 years of early retirement:

When you say no, you are only saying no to one option.

When you say yes, you are saying no to every other option.

No is a decision.

Yes is a responsibility.

Be careful what (and who) you say yes to. It will shape your day, your career, your family, your life.

Done by Forty:  That is amazing, @Brandon.

FireCracker:  "No is a decision, Yes is a responsibility. " Love it, Brandon!

Mad Fientist:  It's hard to say no to fun and interesting opportunities but even in early retirement, you realize time is still precious so you still have to guard it

Tanja, Our Next Life:  And I think to add to Brandon's excellent and perfect point, when you're busy with work and a whole bunch of obligatory "yes" tasks, your "yes" to things you really care about is often tepid or partial. It's nice when you can really, truly take on that responsibility when you want to, and say no to everything else so much more easily.

JL Collins:  "That is amazing, @Brandon." Yep, that says it perfectly.

Liz Frugalwoods:  Agreed on the community; am attempting to get all of you to now move to Vermont. Have conned many into visiting--move plans still pending πŸ˜‰

Mad Fientist:  #frugalwoodstock

Liz Frugalwoods:  Heck yes!

Wanderer:  Love it!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  If you can get rid of the ticks and mosquitoes, I'm there. πŸ˜‰

JL Collins:  One of the great things about having become involved in the FI community has been all the opportunities it has presented. Means I have to say "no" and lot, but the yeses are awesome!

Wanderer:  Like the talk at Google you just did?

JL Collins:  Yes. exactly like the Google Talk. That invitation came from a Chautauqua attendee last fall. Google Talk link for anyone who cares: 

Done by Forty:  Awesome.

Mad Fientist:  Jim, just watched it this morning and really enjoyed it!

FireCracker:  This is why we need to all live on a commune together!

JL Collins:  Or you can all buy shacks on the lake near mine!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Or if you like taller mountains, join us out here in Tahoe! πŸ˜‰ (JK. It's expensive here. But come visit!)

Done by Forty:  Amazing ideas for communes aside... I suppose FI can't all be amazing though, can it? What's the worst part of early retirement or financial independence?

FireCracker:  Devil's advocate! I like it!

Wanderer:  Holidays. I hate holidays now.

Done by Forty:  How so? Like the expectations to give according to typical norms at the holidays?

Wanderer:  Everything shuts down, the malls get clogged up by crowds, ugh.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Saturdays used to be magical, and now are a bummer, because everything is crowded. (I know, poor us.) But truly it's how easily time slips away. It's incredibly easy to get nothing done and waste time. You have to be much more deliberate (or at least I do) to achieve purpose.

Wanderer:  I'm so used to no lines for anything because I'm doing stuff at 2PM that when the holidays roll around I get thrown back into "normal" life.

JL Collins:  Even after all these years, I still have to remember to avoid going out weekends. LOL

Mad Fientist:  I'm sorry I've mostly avoided these first two questions but I've just been working on a post tentatively titled, "The Best and Worst Thing About Early Retirement is the Same Thing" and since I only publish a few posts a year, I can't go and send out spoilers before it's even finished, right?

Agree with Wanderer though about holidays (and also weekends)!

Done by Forty:  We're scooping you, Brandon. πŸ˜‰

JL Collins:  Sure you can give us spoilers, MF!

Liz Frugalwoods:  I think the worst part for me is trying to explain it to folks in real life in a sensitive way. I generally try to avoid it altogether as a topic because I find that money is such a scorching hot third rail topic. I hate making people feel uncomfortable. And, it is difficult to explain FI in a soundbite as I feel there's a great deal of privilege involved in Nate and my journey. So I just say I'm a writer, which is true! πŸ˜ƒ

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I do think it's important to say that the worst part of FI or ER is that it isn't magic.

Done by Forty:  That makes sense, Liz. Hard to be totally open with people.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I just had a six-day migraine, so ER doesn't cure migraines. I'm not blissfully happy at all times. I think sometimes folks see ER as a magical cure-all, and it's not that.

Mad Fientist:  I agree, Liz!  I'm definitely still a "Software Developer"

Done by Forty:  Agree with Tanja there -- sometimes folks might think early retirement is going to literally solve ALL THE PROBLEMS.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  We're still ourselves after we leave work, we still have the same $#!% and demons to deal with, we just have a lot more free time to do that.

JL Collins:  That's true Tanja, but would that migraine have been worse with a job?

Tanja, Our Next Life:  No idea! It was actually my longest migraine ever! (Which is super bizarre, because I'm sleeping more than ever now.)

Mad Fientist:  Yeah, definitely doesn't fix everything.  You won't magically "be happy" when you hit FI.

FireCracker:  I would say the worst part used to be the anger and resentment from haters who are desperate for you to conform, so they just want to dismiss the entire thing and convince you that you made a mistake. But I found that, the longer you are retired, the more confident you become so that's not a problem anymore.

Liz Frugalwoods:  Yeah and I'm really cognizant of how privileged it is to raise kids with TWO parents at home. We can barely handle them and there are TWO of us versus the many folks who single parent or use daycare, etc and have extremely challenging schedules. I am very sensitive about how I describe our living situation to friends with kids.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  To FireCracker's point, I wonder how much of that is BLOGGING about FI vs. actually living it. I haven't met haters in real life, only on the internet.

JL Collins:  FI certainly isn't going to cure all problems and it has sadly failed to make me younger. But life is far sweeter, easier and the opportunities greater with it. That's enough for me!

Liz Frugalwoods:  Good point, Tanja, Our Next Life. I imagine it is largely from blogging as I've never had anyone outwardly hate in real life. (Although again, I don't tell people the whole truth IRL!)

JL Collins: 

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Indeed! It's far better than the alternative, even if it isn't perfect.

FireCracker:  Tanja, the surprising thing is that I thought the haters would ONLY be on the internet. But in reality, there are lots of "frenemies" hidden in plain view. That's the part that was the most disappointing.

JL Collins:  That video is for you, FC!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  FireCracker, that's so interesting! And I'm sorry!

FireCracker: Ha it, Jim.Taylor speaks the truth!

Done by Forty:  Let's invite Taylor Swift to the next chat. She's surely FI, no?

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Liz, yeah, we have yet to figure out how much to tell to people we meet IRL.

Liz Frugalwoods:  FireCracker, that is too bad. I'm curious, do these IRL folks know the whole FI story? I'm always curious about the visceral reactions people have to money as a topic.
Tanya, I continually find that less is better!! I just say I write about personal finance.

FireCracker:  It's all good, Tanja! You learn that when people get defensive and attack you, it's more about them then it is about you. That's another advantage of being FI, you learn not to take things personally, take a step back and be curious instead.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Liz, my favorite thing, though, is meeting recently retired "normal age" retirees, and saying, "You just retired?! Me too!" lolololol

Wanderer:  Yeah my Dad and I retired in the same year. That was fun.

Done by Forty:  Nice!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  (My mom is still working. That's not a fun convo.) πŸ˜‰

JL Collins:  Yikes, Tanja!

Wanderer:  Bwahahahaha

FireCracker:  Oh to Tanja's point, how many of you guys have gotten push back from your parents? How does that affect your decision to FIRE?

Mad Fientist:  @FireCracker: No push back from parents but I'm still not sure they fully understand the situation.

Liz Frugalwoods:  @Mad Fientist: exactly!

We have not really gotten much pushback from our parents. I think largely because they know how determined Nate and I are and also that we're on top of our stuff. We don't discuss the nuances of our finances with them in depth and only offer advice when they specifically ask. My family does read the blog, but we do not share our net worth on there (thank goodness). I think sharing our net worth would change the equation to a great extent.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I agree so hard!

FireCracker:  Looks like, we both need that Taylor Swift video, Tanja! My Mom still thinks I'm nuts, and another FI friend's mom told her "what a waste of an education." Just gotta remind ourselves it's about them, not us.

JL Collins:  Yeah, IRL I don't talk about this at all. I even caution Jane about mentioning my book. Just too much baggage to get thru with those completely new to the concept.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @JL Collins: Especially because you have "wealth" in the title! Major taboo territory.

Liz Frugalwoods:  See I get to fall back on "frugal," which does not connote wealth πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  Smart, Liz. I'm changing my name to Done by Frugal.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @FireCracker: To your point about hate being more about the hater than being about you, same with my mom. (Hi mom! Hahaha.) Everything is about her, so I just gotta shake it off.

JL Collins:  Yep, and the leap from there is it is a get rich quick scam.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  You mean it ISN'T a get rich quick scheme?!?!?! I'm in the wrong place.

JL Collins: Didn't say that. Just said it was the leap. πŸ˜‰

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Hahahaaha. We don't share numbers for a bunch of reasons, but I def know it would change the discussion for IRL folks.

@FireCracker: Ha! I made sure to pay back the state of CA for my education before pulling the plug. πŸ˜‰

I will say that the other three out of our four parents are SUPER supportive.

They know we have our act together and wouldn't do this lightly.

(And also they all retired early.) πŸ˜‰

JL Collins:  Well, your kindly old uncle JL supports you all πŸ˜ƒ

Liz Frugalwoods:  Thank you, @JL Collins! I've tried to get everyone I know to read your book, by the way. I should start carrying copies around with me.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Me too! I rec it constantly.

FireCracker:  Hooray for Uncle Jim! See, our GodFather gets it!

JL Collins:  You mean you don't carry copies already!??

Liz Frugalwoods:  I have a boilerplate "money 101" email I send to friends who request money advice and one of the first steps is for them to read Jim's book!

JL Collins:  BTW, loved your book Liz. An honor to have been asked to read and blurb it!

Liz Frugalwoods:  Thank you!!

JL Collins:  Meet the Frugalwoods, for those who don't yet know it.

Done by Forty:  Okay, let's hit the next question. How has the reality of early retirement/financial independence differed from what you thought it would be while you were working towards that goal?

Mad Fientist:  The weirdest thing about FI that I definitely didn't expect is that money has stopped being a motivating factor in my life. I had planned to pursue various business ideas once I left my job but all of those were primarily motivated by money and now that I've realized I don't need more money, they don't seem worth pursuing. For someone who has focused on money his entire life, it's been very disconcerting.

Done by Forty:  Yes! Was thinking of that, Brandon when I wrote that.

Liz Frugalwoods:  So to Done by Forty's question... I actually don't think there are many differences between the imagined and the reality of being financial independent. It is hard for me to gauge though because my life has changed so dramatically since reaching FI due to writing a book, moving to our homestead, and having two kids. It's hard for me to isolate the variable of only FI. I will say though that not worrying about money makes EVERYTHING in life easier and less stressful. Also frugality yields tremendous dividends in terms of our lifestyle, environmentalism, less waste, increased happiness, decreased stress, blah, blah, blah.... I write too much πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  That's a good call out, too. There's a lot of variables that impact things other than FI. Family, moving, etc. etc.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I didn't think it would be magical, but was sad to find that I was indeed correct. πŸ˜‰ Even before retiring, it was a slight surprise to find that reaching FI didn't actually change anything about life or make us any happier. But to the new insights, the fact that I maybe have MORE urge to work now than I ever expected.

I think it goes both ways with the work and the money!

Done by Forty:  Tanja: that's really interesting. Your drive to work increased in FI. Very cool.

JL Collins:  Personally, retirement was never the goal for me. Being FI and before that just having FU$$ gave me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do and how along the way. But I enjoyed my career. Of course, this was all before FIRE was a thing and I didn't have that concept in my head. I often wonder if my choices would have changed if I had.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  There was a cool opportunity to get more visibility that I recently said yes to, but then they were just the tiniest bit slow getting back to me, and I quickly switched to, "Nope! I'm out. Too much hassle." But then for other stuff that I drive on my own, I find myself wanting to take everything on.

Liz Frugalwoods:  Tanja, good point re: wanting to work! I LOVE my work. I can't imagine not doing it and I am amazed at how fulfilled I am through my work. Hence me doing this chat 6 days after having a baby. πŸ˜‰ I wouldn't have dreamed of doing work for my office job this soon after giving birth.

Mad Fientist:  I'm also surprised at how much I love my normal, boring routine.  I thought I was going to travel a bunch after FI but when you can make life at home so good, there's less desire to go other places.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I agree, @Mad Fientist!

Done by Forty:  Being in Edinburgh or Tahoe probably doesn't hurt either.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Our house in the mountains is so nice, I want to leave it much less than I thought I would! πŸ˜‰

Oh, true! @Liz Frugalwoods: And me doing this chat instead of skiing powder!

Mad Fientist:  Haha, true @Done by Forty.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  (Okay, in truth I'd love to be out skiing. But I committed to you lovely people.)

Done by Forty:  Ha! And again, props to @Liz Frugalwoods for joining 6 days after giving birth. You are amazing.

Liz Frugalwoods:  @Done by Forty: thanks! I do have a baby in my lap, but that's exactly how I want my life to be--a fluid melding of all the things that matter most to me.

SO TRUE @Mad Fientist: and @Tanja, Our Next Life:. Being able to live where you want just because you want to live there is amazing.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  YES.

Liz Frugalwoods:  It costs us more to live out here in the country than it did to live in the city, but we don't care. That's not the point of why we're here, which is the highest form of freedom and liberation.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  But loving life at home is actually a bit of a peril of FI, because research tells us how important social interaction and social circles are to health and longevity.

Yes @Liz Frugalwoods:! So many people ask us, "But of course you could do this because you left the city and it's cheaper!" And I have to remind them that, ahem, Tahoe is the 4th most expensive place in the country. We pay a HUGE premium to do this, but it's so, so worth it.

Liz Frugalwoods:  On the social isolation thing, we've found we are so much more social post-FI simply because we have more time. We do favors/help out neighbors because we're around! And in turn, our lives are so much richer for those relationships. Also, we now have friends of all ages because the traditionally retired folks are home during the day, so we hang out. πŸ˜ƒ I so think it's also easier for us because many of our neighbors here also work from home as farmers, so our lifestyle is not so weird to them.

FireCracker:  Agree with @Liz Frugalwoods:! our social circle has gotten WAY bigger post-FI. When we were working, we had little time for socializing, and never went outside our existing circle because we only had 2-3 weeks to travel per year.

JL Collins:  Great point, Tanja. Living on the lake now days can pass without my leaving the house other than to walk the beach alone. No complaint though.

Liz Frugalwoods:  @Tanja, Our Next Life: so true! That is why I finally wrote a post about how it is more expensive to live here! Had to actually do some math to prove it too, gosh.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @Liz Frugalwoods: City people don't believe us! πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  Yeah, looking around the chat, we have a LOT of pricey locations: Edinburgh, 
Tahoe, Toronto/jetsetting around the world, Vermont homestead, lakehouse...

FireCracker:  Sorry lost internet for a second there. Gotta love being on an island. Anyhoo, to answer Done by Forty:s question "what's not as expected about FI?". Well, I would say, it's similar to what Mad Fientist said. The same motivation when you were working doesn't motivation you anymore. It isn't all about the money. You pick and choose projects that you think will make an impact, rather than just give you buttloads of cash.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Though on the money point, I find that I demand WAAAAY more than I would have for working. Since I don't need the money, my price got a lot higher. πŸ˜‰
I'm like Naomi Campbell in the 90s. I don't get out of bed for less than $10,000. (Kidding!)

JL Collins:  Wait. You get out of bed? Is that still a thing? πŸ˜‰

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @JL Collins: I mean, I'm still in pajamas, so kind of? πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  Okay, time for the next question.

How has your idea of what "success" means to you changed post-FI? (With a nod to the Fairer Cents podcast episode.)

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Aw, thanks for the nod Done by Forty! πŸ˜‰ Still grappling with the success Q. To get all new agey, it's interesting now to grapple with how much of my definition of success is about ego vs. money or status. Like do I want to achieve certain things just because my ego wants them? Or because they'd fulfill me in some way?

JL Collins:  Well, I was pretty ambitious in my career and so success was measured that way for me. But even then, growing my FU$$ was the bigger, if hidden, measure.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I find that I am no less ambitious, to @JL Collins's point. It just manifests differently now.

Liz Frugalwoods:  The success question is one I think about a lot. Ultimately, my metric is "will doing this project/interview/post/etc make me feel fulfilled or stressed?" If the answer is "stressed," then I just don't do it. I am more ambitious and more driven now simply because I'm deeply passionate about what I do. I actually had a nightmare once that Frugalwoods went away and I was super duper sad about it. Hahaha.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  We'd all be sad!

Liz Frugalwoods:  I checked with Nate about our back-up system the next day and he laughed.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I bet a lot of people will be surprised when they reach FI and think they're no longer going to work to find that they care more about their own projects and thus become MORE ambitious!

Liz Frugalwoods:  I think this goes to what @Mad Fientist taught me that you need to retire TO something, not just FROM something

Tanja, Our Next Life:  100%. But in reality, what you retire to might be different than you plan or imagine.

Done by Forty:  This is all super interesting to me. My assumption was that I'd feel rudderless in early retirement. Everyone is saying the ambition not only stays, but that you're more motivated than before (IF you have something to be passionate about).

Tanja, Our Next Life:  I think that's a big "if," @Done by Forty!

You're talking to a subset who go out of our way to write, so probably only one end of the spectrum.
There are certainly folks who DO feel rudderless, and I'm sure we all hear from them.

FireCracker:  Anyhoo back to @Done by Forty's awesome question ! I would say "success" means being able to make a positive impact in some way. Especially if you can have fun doing it! When we were working "success" just meant making money and climbing the corporate ladder. If money wasn't part of the equation, you're not "successful". Fi changes all that so you can think bigger and beyond just money.

Done by Forty:  That's a great call out.

@FireCracker: -- totally agree on focusing on having a positive impact, rather than just chasing money.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @FireCracker: YES!

JL Collins:  When potential FIRE folks in soul crushing jobs tell me they are not quite there yet. Not at the 25x weath bar/4% rule level and are desperate to get out, I tend to tell them to go for it. The idea that an early retiree is never going to earn again seems silly to me.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @JL Collins: Oh so true! Though I'm glad we waited until we truly had enough to pull the trigger, even if we're still earning now.

Mad Fientist:  I actually don't think about success much anymore.  I'm just focused on getting better at things I want to get better at and as long as I put in the time and effort to get better, it should happen (and keep happening).

Done by Forty:  I like that, Brandon. Maybe that's one big way your idea of success changes: you maybe stop thinking in those terms of success/failure as much.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @Mad Fientist: Such a self-actualized definition!

The social and environmental impact piece is huge for us. Like if we can't make the world a bit better with all of our good fortune and privilege, what's the damn point?!

Wanderer:  @Mad Fientist: Like growing your beard?

FireCracker:  @Mad Fientist: You are doing quite well at that, in the beard-growing department, my good sir #lifegoals.

Mad Fientist:  Haha, actually yes, @Wanderer!  I definitely care less of what others think now so why not grow a big nasty beard to see what it's like?

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Since I cannot grow a beard, I have to focus on things like making my community a bit better. πŸ˜‰

Done by Forty:  #Beardgoals

Liz Frugalwoods:  Ok, let's tone down the beard hating rhetoric. πŸ˜‰

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Hahahaaha

Wanderer:  @Mad Fientist: You sir are winning at life.

FireCracker:  @Liz Frugalwoods: LOL

Mad Fientist:  @Liz Frugalwoods: "Nasty" was only in reference to my own beard.  Nate's is absolutely glorious (definitely have beard envy)

Liz Frugalwoods:  Bahahaa

Done by Forty:  Okay, we're coming up on an hour so let's skip to the final question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who's considering working towards financial independence or an early retirement?

Tanja, Our Next Life:  What is this "hour" you speak of? Is time a thing?

Advice: Focus on planning your life. Money is the easy part, and is mostly a waiting game. Figure out what you want to get out of life, what that looks like, what that costs, and what will fulfill you. Go from there.

JL Collins:  Go for it. It is not about deprivation. It is about expanding your options and your life.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  And also don't wait for FI to really live your life. Live your life to its fullest now while also working toward FI.

FireCracker:  @Tanja, Our Next Life: So true! I spent buttloads of money travelling while we were working, which probably slowed down FI but I don't care! Totally worth it. Gotta spend on what matters to you.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @FireCracker: Totally! Brandon can speak to depriving himself on the journey and how miserable that was! We tried not to, and don't regret it.

Liz Frugalwoods:  Agreed. Decide where you want to be in 10 years, in 20 years, in 40 years. Then, craft your money to match that plan. Be ruthless, focused, and enjoy the journey.

I will also say that while the life planning aspect is the most important, it is crucial to have a solid financial plan. I get very nervous when I hear from readers who've retired without enough saved up and without a solid longterm plan for their money.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @Liz Frugalwoods: YES! The plan is so important, but it's not where you should begin.

Mad Fientist:  Forget the goal of FI and instead dedicate yourself to making your spending as efficient as possible in the context of living your ideal life.  What do you want to accomplish?  What do you want to create before you die?  What do you want to leave behind?  Try to answer those questions out and then figure out how to optimize your money so you can do as much of that stuff as possible.  And don't be afraid to change course because, like all of us, you're probably shitty at knowing what you actually want!

Tanja, Our Next Life:  @Mad Fientist: Hahahaa. So true! Your plan needs lots of flexibility.

Liz Frugalwoods:  Mad Fientist nailed it, per usual.

Tanja, Our Next Life:  Like Liz, I get nervous when I hear from readers who've built a plan with no flexibility. Like they are going to live in an RV, and if they decide they don't like RV life, they don't have enough $ to pay rent or buy a house. Make sure you save enough to change your mind!
And it wouldn't be me if I didn't talk health care. Given all the uncertainty in the U.S., build escalating spending into your plan. Health insurance is going up 20% a year in many states, and Medicare is likely about to get a lot pricier. So don't assume 25X/4% is good forever.

Liz Frugalwoods:  @Tanja, Our Next Life: YES! I think that is another example of where the flexibility and, for example, diversified sources of passive income are helpful. I think we'd feel a lot less confident longterm without those.

FireCracker:  I think the more flexible you are, the higher chances you will succeed at not running out of money in retirement. It also  helps to have backup plans as well, just in case. You can't control what happens, but you can control how many safety nets you have in place. Flexibility allows you to adapt to unexpected changes.

JL Collins:  Yep. Flexibility is the only real security. The less of that you have the more of everything else you'll need. And that is a tough path.

Mad Fientist:  Yes, flexibility is absolutely key.  Try before you buy.  Rent instead of own (until you're positive).

Done by Forty:  Okay everyone! I think that's a great place to wrap up. 

Thank you all, sincerely, for joining this chat. 

*Photo was from Muffet at Flickr Creative Commons.


  1. Great chat. It shows everyone does it a bit differently. There is no set formula. You have to find your own FIRE. Very cool.

    1. Thanks, Joe! There are definitely a lot of ways to approach early retirement in particular, as well as financial independence.

      And I love they way you put it: you have to find your own FIRE.

  2. Cool chat, thanks for sharing....I felt like a fly on the wall at one of those cool parties!

    1. Hey Ms ZiYou! I don't know how cool our party would be though.

  3. Hey DB40...

    Great job pulling our hot mess into this coherent chat. I had a blast with you and the others.

    Thanks for inviting me!

    1. I don't know how much credit I can take for running the spellchecker. But I'll take it, Jim!

      It was great chatting with you. Maybe we can do it again someday!

  4. Had a great time chatting with the chat, DbF! Thanks for organizing our crazy dialogue into something that's actually readable!

  5. This was great. Thank you for all the nuggets of wisdom and joy. :)