My husband retired from the military after 20 years of service last summer at age 38 – his guaranteed income is appx $67k per year for life (tax free and subject to COLA), and he gets an additional $17k the next 4 years under the GI Bill while he’s in school. We have appx $450k invested, no debt, and guaranteed health insurance for life with no monthly premiums, $150 annual deductible and $3k annual catastrophic cap. We have one child, age 5, who will receive free college tuition if she attends a state University in our state of record. We do have appx $25k in a brokerage account for her for addtl college expenses. My husband is considering not working after he finishes school, or working a ‘fun’ part time job. We live in the Midwest, where cost of living is ok (much better than our last duty station in CA!). I work a ‘fun’ part time job bringing in about $1k/mo. Curious on your thoughts as to where this puts us. And, do we figure my husbands ‘pension + benefits’ in our networth?
Great goals! It’s nice to see your journey play out. Since you are now talking about Thailand in your early retirement plan I thought I would point you to someone very interesting. When you have a minute, google “Paul Terhorst.” Since you are traveling in FI circles, you’ve probably already come across his name and read his book “Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35.” In case you haven’t, he and his wife retired at the age of 35 back in the 80’s with about $500k. They have been perpetual travelers ever since – spending significant amounts of time in Thailand, Argentina and other parts of the globe. He would be a wonderful person to feature on your next podcast if you can get him. I consider him to be one of the grandfathers of the FIRE movement.
When you say $250k-300k in annual passive income.makes life really really good, are you referring to gross income or after tax income. In fact, some clarity around before or after tax income levels would be helpful for all the dollar figures in this post. The new tax structure significantly affects people in the Blockbuster FI cayegory, mostly on adverse ways, so.i am curious about of the targets change based on before or after tax income, especially of one does not have a small business owner properties to use for tax write offs. Thanks

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I will admit, I’m not a huge fan of fancy budget spreadsheets, so I just use free tracking apps like Personal Capital. Then once a month I used the data and wrote down every bill and loan I had with the numbers next to them (some obviously varied slightly from month to month) along with every time I spent money on going out, food, clothes, etc. You’d be surprised at the things you catch that has affected your spending over the last year. Slight tweaks and adjustments can make all the difference in the amount you save. This was how I was able to identify how much money interest my student and car loans were accumulating and then identified it was critical for me to start paying them down rapidly.
Categories. Identify what’s truly necessary by identifying all of your monthly expenses based on the past six months, and then divide your expenses into three categories: Essentials, Nonessentials, and Junk. Write down every expense (food, housing, utilities, insurance, cars, gas, transportation, clothes, credit cards, phones, Internet, pets, entertainment, etc.); triple-check the list with your significant other or a friend; and then use your Essentials, Nonessentials, and Junk categories to prioritize and cut wherever you can. The stricter you are, the sooner you’ll be free.
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Robin, I was reading through the comments and saw your post. I don’t know if you will see this since it is so much later. I am a small animal veterinarian in Eastern Washington State. I was privileged and had support with education but still had about 70k in student loans. I will easily reach blockbuster level by 40. I am nearly 37 now. I did it through ownership. That increases income dramatically. Additionally, it is an investment, my biggest, that you can sell when your done. Essentially, it allows you to earn income twice, once through dividends and then secondly through capital gains when you sell. I am also currently investing in real estate and downsized my primary residence. I had to transition my mentality about money and define wants vs needs but I did it. I still see other associate vets I work with that will barely scrape enough by the time they are 65. If you want to talk more please feel free to reach out to me.


Well said Illidi. There are more ways than ever, mostly because of the internet. I think the secret is to put out a product or service that’s unique. Not that you have to invent a whole new business, but take an existing business concept, and add something unique to it. Because you’re absolutely right, everyone is getting into the game, making it harder to succeed.
If you have 20 years left to live and only require $60,000 a year, having $1,200,000 can also be considered enough even if you make zero return. The only problem is that your purchasing power will decline by ~2% a year due to inflation. The other problem is that you don’t know exactly how many years you have left to live. Therefore, it’s always better to have more rather than less.
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