“If you want to retire early, you need to have a strong ‘why,’” Hayes said. “Do you want to quit your job so that you can start that business you always talked about with your friends? Do you want to have more than two weeks per year of vacation time? Do you want to spend more time with your loved ones? Whatever your why, let that be the motivating factor to create a plan and stick to it during the tough times. Once you have that why, you want to determine your path.”
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You are suggesting that because the risk free rate of return is 2.5% anybody who is not obtaining that return is not invested “properly”. However, risk is a real thing and it affects investment returns, and everybody invests with different objectives in mind. I would argue that anybody pursuing financial independence that is 100% invested in ten year bonds is not properly invested because the return from that portfolio will likely only keep up with inflation (if that). Whereas somebody who is pursuing financial independence would be better served in a balanced portfolio including stocks, bonds and maybe other asset classes. This portfolio is more than likely to return less than 2.5% in any given year, but is a more “proper” asset allocation to meet his objectives than is investing 100% of the portfolio in 10 year bonds.

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I find it easy just to figure out what lifestyle you want, what it costs, and then make that your monthly nut. We relocated to a low cost-of-living midwest community, with excellent schools, and a medium-sized city within a 30-minute drive. My military retirement covers about half of our nut and we’re making up quite a bit more than the other half with work / contracts we’ve landed. We will save the remainder, pay off our house so that reduces our nut even further, then start jamming enough money into passive-income generating investments so that we can quit working entirely if we want, though work right now is interesting enough and is on terms that we set, so I’m not in a hurry to quit working anyway. As always, Sam, a good piece that I enjoyed reading…

Agree though it all depends how one defines “best”. I put Madison, WI as one of the best places to live in the US and so do many others. Sure it’s small and not on a coast, but it’s one of the top biking cities in the US. It’s consistently ranked near the top for livability, surrounded by 4 lakes that are used year-round, home to a great public University and has a good tech scene with Epic Systems (EMR leader) and a nationally ranked accelerator, gener8tor. Plus it’s in America’s Heartland! The winters can get rough, but considering the median home price is only $220K it doesn’t take much to live large. Just light one of the fireplaces!


Many people factor in control over their time when considering their wealth. Having complete control over your time is often one factor of achieving financial independence. You may not have totally reached the investing goal that allows you to maintain your lifestyle without an additional paycheck, but having total control over how you spend your day can be a variable factored in to how you define wealth.

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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.

It’s hard to truly experience the pressure and know the cost of raising a kid in an expensive coastal city if you live in the Midwest. You can see the $1.4-$1.5M median home price number, but it’s hard to really know how expensive that is for how average a house you get until you go and by one. This is partly why I want to GET OUT of SF and escape the grind and the knowledge that every parent I know is indeed spending a fortune on their kids etc.

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There is another re-org at work. Rumour has it that I am affected it. If I have to quit because I don’t like my new boss then my pension would be 39K at age 55 w/o any retiree medical coverage. Since my wife was laid off in 2016 with a severance, I am not eligible for a severance because of company policy that they don’t laid off both spouses. Since I am so close, Wifey wants me to work until 55 and I agree. Since life always throws a curve ball, I rather be more financially secure.
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