Focusing on Early Retirement

Early Retirement 

For professional skiers the best time to retire is when they start to go downhill. But what about the rest of us? Well for most people the question isn’t at what age we should retire, it’s at what income. 😉 People who want to retire early seem to have a clear and consistent focus to grow their wealth so that it can provide them with enough passive income to sustain their lifestyles forever. This can be done through a number of ways such as reducing living expenses, increasing income, and making high investment returns. 🙂


I recently read a CNBC article that featured a couple, Carl and Mindy, who retired in their early 40s with a million dollars. And they did it pretty much the same way as most other early retirees.

In 2012 the husband-wife duo with 2 kids already had $570,000 saved up. But they were inspired to retire early so they set a clear goal to build a portfolio of $1 million and no debt. And earlier this year in 2016, they have accomplished their dream. 🙂

The CNBC article suggests that “anyone can do the same — and you don’t have to be an investment banker raking in millions. All it takes is smart decisions along with intelligent saving and investing.

Here are some steps the couple took to reach their financial goals.

  • Track spending – “My wife and I wrote all of our expenses in a book,” says the husband.
  • Live in an affordable location –  The couple resides in a low-cost area in Colorado, and lives on $2,000 a month for the whole family. They mention this would not be possible in San Francisco or Manhattan.
  • Cut bills – “I learned that you don’t need a lot of money,” said the wife. “My quality of life has not changed since we became laser-focused on cutting out our expenses. I don’t need the cable TV. I don’t need a super-expensive phone plan. I don’t miss all this stuff because it didn’t really add to my life,” she said.
  • Invest in appreciating assets – The couple bought a $176,000 fixer upper home that they estimate is now worth over $400,000. They also I bought 2,000 shares at Facebook at $30 a share which is now worth around $120 a share!
  • Consistent savings – They’ve continuously put away $2,000 per month into their investment portfolio.

I think this couple has done a wonderful job of managing their money. And they track their progress on their blog, I like anecdotal stories like this because it’s real life confirmation that I’m headed in the right direction with my own financial journey. I currently track all my expenses, live in a cheap city, have about $500K of wealth, save at least $2,000 per month and don’t have cable or an expensive phone plan. These are common practices that nearly all early retirees follow. 😀 So theoretically I could also become a millionaire in just 4 short years if I start doing what this couple has done.

But of course everyone has different opinions about the story. I would be remiss if I only shared my own personal thoughts. So below I’ve quoted some interesting responses to the story by other people. I found these in the comments section of the article which candidly reveals some alternative perspectives on the topic.

“$30,000/year for a couple? That’s maybe doable until you have health costs.”

“So, get lucky when buying a house and investing. Got it.”

“Give me a break….they started with $570K, what an awful article.”

“They’ll be broke by 50…No way a family of 4 can live on $30k a year, and send 2 kids to college. They are delusional. I would love to retire early, but to punish my family and live like hobos, no thanks.”

“How is it possible to get past an editor the amazingly idiotic notion that “The good news is, anyone can do the same — and you don’t have to be an investment banker raking in millions.” Anyone (or couple) can save $1M in 4 years? Most couples make less than 1/4 that amount in 4 years!”

“This has to win the annual award for bait click. “COUPLE SAVES $1,000,000 IN 4 YEARS!” (oh yea, forgot to mention they had $570,000 to start with!)”

“They say they are retiring and then 3/4 through the article they state they are going to continue working after retirement. How is that retiring and not just changing jobs?”

Random Useless Fact

Archaeologists don’t dig up dinosaur bones. They just study past human cultures. Scientists who study dinosaur bones (or fossils) are called paleontologists.

archaeology in the future


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Dividend Growth Investor
08/18/2016 7:15 am

I have interacted with Mr 1500, and have followed his journey for a few years. I think that they have saved for more than a decade to get to where they are today. The past 4 years have been great for stock investors. Plus, he has the skill to buy properties, renovate them, increase their value with his own sweat equity and sell them at a profit. I am amazed that so many hateful comments were there on CNBC. This makes me want to remain anonymous, and not tell everyone I have 6 or 7 figure net worth

xyz from Financial Path
xyz from Financial Path
08/19/2016 7:13 am

I don’t think that the majority of the population is ready for the FIRE mindset but you don’t need to hide here 😛

08/22/2016 6:12 am

“…it’s not the case that they just got extremely lucky and became millionaires over the last few years.”

That’s exactly what happened. They went from $570k to $1M and became millionaires in the span of four years, or “over the last few years”. Denying the obvious math is sticking your head in the sand.

The article states: “All it takes is smart decisions along with intelligent saving and investing.” Really?

65% of their million is comprised of exactly TWO (2) items: facebook stock and their house.
This is intelligent investing?

I guess giving zero weight to luck and the right time-right place factor is not of importance. Even billionaire Buffett openly admits to being hugely lucky. But, hey, if you are the average Joe+Jane, you can definitely become a millionaire (if you ignore certain things).

Might also want to pay attention to the employment factor: “Carl noted that his programming job paid well…”. Yup, better get a STEM education/career if you have hopes of becoming wealthy and/or saving $2,000/mo.

But, whatever, doesn’t really matter; the discussion will be dead once the new blog post goes up tomorrow. 😉

08/18/2016 9:06 am

I love the story of Mr. & Mrs. 1500. Have followed their journey for a few years and had the chance to write a couple articles for them. Great people, would love to meet them in person one of these days.

The thing with these FIRE articles is that haters will always hate. Once the craziest come out they’ll never end.

08/18/2016 10:24 am

How come commentators are labelled as “haters” for merely highlighting the points these types of articles tend to whitewash or fail to address.

Interesting (amusing?) display of psychology, esp when the ‘optimists’ hate on the haters. ?

08/22/2016 5:48 am

Are “haters” the only labelled group with insecurities? What insecurities are you talking about, any way?

08/22/2016 10:35 pm

I don’t have any insecurities about other people’s financial decisions garnering better returns than my own — I can’t put money into everything! — but I also don’t have any problems acknowledging any possible flaws…esp in meaningless articles/blog adverts such as the one from CNBC. For example, “Carl noted that his programming job paid well, but did not share specifics.” Why not?! He has absolutely zero problem sharing ALL the specifics of the other side of the equation, so why so hesitant on perhaps the most important piece — income? Might it be that it’s much, MUCH easier to grow $1MM when your income is $100,000+ instead of $30,000? Nope, no mention of that fact. Come on, Carl, let’s hear how much you were raking in during the last 5-10 years. You and your wife certainly aren’t shy about letting the ENTIRE WORLD know you are now millionaires, but yet are overtly coy in the income disclosure dept (e.g. did his employer match his 401(k) contributions?). Or perhaps the flaw of gaining a million using one strategy (asset concentration, stock picking) but then turning your back on the very strategy that gave you wealth once you’ve gained that wealth. Basically,… Read more »

08/18/2016 1:34 pm

Everyone is a critic. But the article is misleading saying you don’t need to be an investment banker raking in millions to save $1 million in 4 years. Makes it seem so simple to reach this goal in a short amount of time. But when you think about it, its all about income versus expense. The more you earn the easier you can save and reach your goals faster that is if you keep your expenses low.

Liquid, you’ve done extremely well for a single guy to reach $500k in assets before 30! But it takes time to grow and nest your hard earned money. Keep up the good job.

A lot of people can retire early if they decide to cash out, but a lot don’t. They actually like working… While many others struggle pay to pay. Everyone has a different financial path. I am amazed at each situation and sometimes I can’t believe the things I hear.

08/18/2016 5:18 pm

I wonder if all these “I retired early with $1 million!” people realize how narcissistic they are being by seeking to be recognized for hitting some arbitrary goal of Capitalism? What are their other contributions to society?

I’m rather glad these selfish/egotistical people are out of the work force; they don’t seem to have the fortitude to learn how to enjoy their chosen education and careers, or find careers they they do enjoy. Seems like a huge waste of resources to get an education and develop a career with the goal of retiring early (I guess soon enough the workforce will be comprised of people with 15 years experience or less). If this is your primary goal, here’s a hint: go into the highest paying job you possibly can (e.g. hedge fund manager, drug dealer, etc.) and work it for as many hours as possible for the shortest time possible; save all the money you make and retire before you’re 30. Huzzah!

08/22/2016 5:56 am

I’d say as the capacity for enduring challenge decreases, the duration of our careers is decreasing.

Let’s compare a professional athlete to these recently retired professionals. They “had a bad DAY” at work and made the decision to flee employment. An athlete can have a horrible day, month, season(s) at work and still continue on, looking to improve and progress on the ‘failures’; they don’t throw their hands up and say “This is too hard!”. I guess early retirement is one way of weeding the weak out of the workforce.

08/18/2016 9:32 pm

What great responses…. No one is happy to know that others bested their efforts by sticking to a plan that they enacted way in the past… I live a happy life, and care not what others think, but if others want to know what we did, all they need to do is ask… The problem is most don’t want to ask 😉 – Cheers

08/19/2016 6:05 am
Reply to  Phil

Did you buy Facebook stock, too? If so, do you recommend the average retail investor pursue “stock picking” over “indexing”? Thanks for your answers.

08/22/2016 7:29 pm
Reply to  Anon

Nope, no FB stock. I stick to Canadian stocks only, and maybe a little personal real estate, not to mention some DIY skills I obtained along my life’s journey so far… I recommend to the average retail investor to pursue whatever helps them attain their goals. 7Billion people on the planet, there are bound to be a few ways that work, and some that don’t O.o. And for the record, I’m not an index investor 🙂 – Cheers

Financial Canadian
08/19/2016 5:40 am

This is a pretty inspiring story. I find that my goal of $80,000 of passive income seems so hard to reach – but when I read stories like this, it is so motivating!

08/22/2016 7:31 pm

Liquid, knowledge and time are a great combination for measured success 😉

08/27/2016 6:57 am

Thought I’d repost this in the comments for those who missed the twitter feed:

Uh oh! The uproar of lifting the veil! LOL!


[…] for one month. I assume you’re doing this anyway if you’re a regular reader here. Tracking your finances is the first step to early retirement. […]


[…] Reading these posts on early retirement make me wonder if I am already semi or early retired. My condo is fully paid for, I just need to make enough in dividends ($500K saved is my estimate for capital required) to cover living expenses and stop spending on shopping. Hmm. Food for thought. […]