How To Retire In Your 30s

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished (Lake Atitlan, Guatemala)

Two and a half years ago, Winnie and I left the working world behind to pursue a life of travel and adventure.  By becoming Financially Independent, we were able to become Location Independent, and we used this new found freedom to begin exploring the world and our passions

In a world obsessed with bigger houses, faster cars, and luxury for the sake of luxury, we are a little odd.  So odd, that when our story was shared in some mainstream media it went super viral.

If our lifestyle sounds like an interesting and exciting alternative, this post will outline a recipe to duplicate our success and put you on the path to living life on your own terms

Conceptually, retiring in your 30’s is quite simple, albeit not necessarily easy.

  • Maximize Income
  • Live Well Below Your Means
  • Invest the Difference
  • Wait

Maximize Income

Becoming financially independent requires building up a large amount of capital, a task made much easier by earning a high income.

For those yet to enter the workforce, selecting a career path with a high income per year of education is important.  For example, with an Engineering degree it is possible to earn a 6-figure income with only 3-4 years of college.  Medicine and Law degrees offer high incomes, but at the expense of a decade spent in an ivory tower.

For those with no interest in attending college, or those with a degree in a lower income field, time outside of work can be spent on a side hustle.

J Money has examples of over 50 ways to bring in additional income, and Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation is dedicated to helping others build a side business.  Being an entrepreneur offers unlimited upside

No matter which path you choose, with hard work and dedication it is possible to grow income over time.  By inflating savings rather than lifestyle, this will result in rapid growth in wealth

Live Well Below Your Means

A high income only goes so far, as taxes becoming increasingly burdensome at high incomes.  It isn’t so much what you earn, as what you keep

If you choose to live a typical lifestyle, you can expect typical results.  Saving 5% of after-tax income is the same as agreeing to work a minimum of 55 years.

On the other hand, if you do some unconventional things (at least relative to your typical consumer unit) and aim for savings rates of 50% – 70% (or more) we can shorten our work lives to just a decadeBy using tax advantaged savings vehicles, we can shorten this by an additional 20%.  If you have debt, the Financial Freedom Clock begins when you get debt to zero

Fortunately, the typical American consumer lifestyle is an incredible example of waste and inefficiency.  See this graphic based on data from the US BLS

For this typical American “consumer unit”, a full 80% of after-tax income is spent on Housing, Transportation, and Food.  Using the Pareto Principle to our advantage, we can focus first on these “Big 3”

Live Large in a Small Space

Since the 1950’s, the average home size has nearly doubled.  Besides extra bedrooms, extra bathrooms, extra closets, and extra garage parking, this also brings extra taxes, extra utility bills, extra maintenance costs, and extra time spent cleaning.

By contrast, we chose to live in a small apartment that cost a fraction of the price of a home or condo.  All of the savings went straight into our brokerage account

Learn to Love Your Bicycle

We carefully selected the location of our apartment, such that we could walk and bike everywhere.  We were within a block of the farmer’s market and a grocery store, a few blocks from the library, and nearby a large park.  As a result, we didn’t own a car.

Biking resulted in a slimmer waistline and a much fatter wallet

On occasion, public transit, car share services, and Uber filled the gaps

Cook Better than Restaurant Food at Home

Dining out was reserved for special occasions, and the vast majority of our meals were prepared at home.  Why go out to eat, when the best food in town comes out of your own kitchen?  We even made our own Artisan Bread for pennies

Cooking is a skill like any other, and improves with practice and experience.  Whenever we would ask if friends wanted to spend $50 on some eggs for brunch, or come over to our place for a home cooked meal, guess which one they picked

Dinner Party at Our House in Mexico

Dinner Party at Our House in Mexico

Bonus Points

For bonus points, entertainment options such as having friends over for dinner, playing in the park, and reading books from the library will add an additional boost to savings.

One fine evening years ago, we attended a Soup Cook Off at a friends’ home.  There were 30 participants in total, and we blind taste tested each soup and voted for our favorite.  The only prize was bragging rights.

Years later, we still have fond memories of that evening.  Now quick, what was your favorite move that you saw last year?

As a result of these practices, our overall spending was a fraction of our peers.  We lived very luxuriously, we were just very efficient

Invest the Difference

Now that the savings account is starting to grow by leaps and bounds, we need to put that money to work

Learning to invest is probably the most valuable skill one could ever learn, and fortunately Jim Collins has laid it all out in an easy to use Stock Series.  This two hour reading adventure explains not only how to invest, but the psychology behind it.

The stock market is one of the greatest wealth creating vehicles ever created (perhaps second only to a bicycle) and is a critical component of building a portfolio that will support a retirement of 60+ years.

By owning stock, we are hiring the world’s brightest and most motivated to grow the companies we own, so that we can focus on our real interests


When it is working for you through investing, compound interest is your best friend.

A classic example is the Penny Doubling Though Experiment, in which we start with 1 penny and double it every day for a month

On January 1st, you have $0.01.
On January 2nd, $0.02.
On January 3rd, $0.04.

Now how much do you have on January 31st?  $500?  $1000?  How about $10 million?!  That is the power of compound interest (and in the opposite way, debt will rob you of your future, guaranteed)

Now in the real world, we aren’t going to double our money every day.  But by  investing in a diversified portfolio of stocks, we are putting this force to work in the most powerful way possible

At the point where our investments are worth 25x our annual expenses, we are at the cusp of financial independence.  Spend $20k/year?  You only need $500k.  $40k/year?  $1 million will suffice.

At this point, you are able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  This includes travel, volunteering, or continuing to work if you want to buy more stuff.  (As a guess, most people won’t choose work as they internalize the concept of Enough.)


By maximizing income, living well below our means, investing the difference, and allowing compound interest to work for us for many years, we were able to build a portfolio that would support our desired lifestyle to the end of time

By following a similar path, it is possible to replicate our results

It will take effort and dedication, mistakes will be make along the way, and at times your friends may question your sanity.  But the journey itself is fun and exciting, and the rewards are more than worth it

Best wishes, and good luck

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83 Responses to How To Retire In Your 30s

  1. Richard Chen says:

    Very inspiring!

    We only moved to Taipei from LA for less than 4 months, so still trying to figure things out. But the affordable healthcare is a huge plus for us. A large amount of our net worth is in the house we own. Currently it’s rental property. We definitely not living off with the 4%. But it’s great know that’s a goal to shoot for in the future. Thanks!

    I would say life will be a little different after having kids. Actually could be lot a different. Your monetary expense will likely to increase. If you live in a good Taipei district, your kid can go to public school for almost nothing, but at expense of higher housing costs. After school also requires money. Luckily rental is cheaper comparing to LA, but still a large portion of our expense.

  2. It’s definitely possible! What we’ve discovered in our journey to financial independence is that once you change your mindset and divorce yourself from the notion that buying stuff = happiness, it’s possible to spend very little money. We’ve found a great deal of freedom in not spending and instead saving upwards of 71% of our incomes.

    Saving that amount of money will liberate us from the need to make more money and it’s all thanks to our changed outlook on life. Our culture inundates with the call to buy and to inflate our lifestyles, but if we instead pursue the life we actually want, we’ve found we don’t need much money. It’s a virtuous cycle to be sure.

    Love reading about your story–so inspiring!

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      I love what you guys are doing. I can’t wait to see life on the homestead

      In the immortal words of Tyler Durden, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don’t need”

      “buying stuff = happiness” and “gifts = love” are two dangerous ideas that are widely accepted

  3. Raphael McDude says:

    People say, find a job that you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life…

    Whatever. I’ve never found a job that I like, much less one that I love. So it’s far more practical for me to tolerate 10 years in a crappy high-paying gig, and then just spend the next 40+ years doing whatever the hell I want 🙂

    Why we would ever tether our passion to our income, is beyond me. (Say that five times fast)

    Love the way you see the world, Jeremy.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      I like this quote from The 4 Hour Workweek

      “I will take as a given that, for most people, somewhere between six and seven billion of them, the perfect job is the one that takes the least time. The vast majority of people will never find a job that can be an unending source of fulfillment”

      • That’s an incredibly true quote that most experts refuse to recognize.

        • Go Curry Cracker says:

          It’s also a very loaded choice

          “Find a job you love”, but don’t pursue one in music or art, because those aren’t practical, and don’t pursue a trade because you obviously have to go to college, etc…

          You only get to choose after you’ve already ignored all your passions

      • Ted Hu says:

        As a retired 40 year old, I can safely say that hedonism and/or happiness 24/7 will not bring you satisfaction. Not working is a bit overrated in the sense that purpose may be had through hard work helping others that may require a lot of sacrifice and happiness.

        A lot of purposeful things are not happy things. Happiness had at infinity dulls the mind and heart. I think it’s fair to say that joy and satisfaction of self is had by overcoming challenges and stretch goals that satisfy your mind and body and sense of identity.

        Helping others avoid suffering, enjoying the beauty that surrounds us that only humans can, living each moment on an arc that exposes you to novelty and various life experiences would be great.

        But for me, traveling the world, in of itself, won’t suffice. It’s what will we do in this world on our own accord, that will leave it a better place than when we found it.

        • Kinsan says:

          Wow. Well put, I really enjoyed your comment Ted. I feel very much like you, and I have a two year old Indigo child that pushes me toward a more meaningful existence. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Nita says:

    This is just what I needed! Thanks for spelling this all out. How long did it take you to adjust to these changes or had you always been this thrifty?

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      It was a continuous process. Living in a small space and biking and walking every where was an easy adjustment. We love food, so not dining out was harder, but as home cooked meals because of restaurant quality dining at home was much more fun.

      It really only takes a few weeks for new things to become habits, or even less time with a positive attitude and keeping in mind the big goal

  5. “Conceptually, retiring in your 30’s is quite simple, albeit not necessarily easy.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. There are enough of us 30-something early retirees that it’s clearly not impossible. Methodologically, it’s quite simple like you say. I would say it’s easy too, but I guess you’re right – virtually everyone else doesn’t think it is easy, so it probably isn’t for most.

    Step zero might be to realize we don’t live in a binary world of can or can not. Even if you can’t reach financial independence in your 30’s, maybe you can do it in your 40’s or 50’s, regardless of real or imagined insurmountable hurdles scattered in your path.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      And in the other direction, if you have some advantages such as graduating college without student debt or some Roth IRA contributions from high school, you could even retire in your 20’s

      • I definitely could have shaved a few years off if I skipped 3 years of law school.

        • Kinsan says:

          I hear you! Law school is generally a very poor choice unless one a) can line up a job with a good firm, and b) is willing to work 80 hours a week for quite some time. Law school was my biggest life mistake- a 100k debt albatross that forced me (unknowingly at the time) to kiss an early retirement goodbye. However, I am fighting back. I secured a fixed refinance at 1.5%, make double payments, and in 12 years went from 100k to 38k. And-based a lot on what I have learned here- upped my savings rate from 5% to 15%. My wife and I also went and locked in a 15 year mortgage at 2.8% (we plan to travel in the US with a home base) and are planning my permanent exit from the workforce at age 46 (three years away) so I can home school my daughter while we travel as my wife is working on an OT doctorate and plans on becoming a traveling OT. So, lots of ways to achieve ones goals, and while we started late and $1 million dollars and an early retirement is out of reach, we found other ways to achieve financial independence (to some degree) and an unorthodox lifestyle. My favorite part about this blog is that it is bold and unconventional. Not everyone has the brains or opportunity to pull off what the GCC team have done, but it is a high bar to shoot for, and a starting point for turning one’s financial life around.

  6. Tiffany Landry says:

    There is a book that you mentioned in one of your posts. I believe it was something that you read early on that changed your way of thinking?? I’ve been clicking through your posts, but can’t find it. It was linked to the amazon page to purchase… Can you tell me what the name of the book was? (If you know what I’m talking about) Thanks!

  7. What you guys did is the definition of simple but hard. Most people just can’t stick with it. I like having a house most of the time, but sometimes I wish we’d have just stuck with a simple, smaller apartment

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      For me, owning a house seemed like a good idea until I actually did it

      I’m pretty confident we will be renter’s for life

  8. donebyforty says:

    Love the post. Like most things in life, financial independence is not complicated…it’s just not easy, either.

  9. Stefanie says:

    Wow! Your journey is impressive and amazing and this article is one of the most important I read in my life (I’m 25 now). I’m on this journey too, but have some more years of learning and working to get retired. I also recommend Phil Towns value investing books if you haven’t read them already. Wishing you all the best! Cheers from Munich, GER

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Thank you Stefanie, wow, what a great comment

      We are still learning too, it is a constant in life.

  10. Kai says:

    Are you saying 50-70% of your income after your bills are paid? And after all your debt is paid? I have a mortgage and student loans but im afraid if i dont save money and i have an emergency like being laid off, fire etc I wont be able to live.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Hi Kai

      I’m saying live off of less than 50% of your after-tax income. If you have debt, then that needs to be paid off first, and the lower your cost of living the easier that is

      Mortgage principle can be considered part of your savings, although the interest is a real expense and is quite high in the first 10 years of a mortgage

      Building an emergency fund can be a good idea, particularly if it helps you sleep well at night

      good luck!


  11. I think the key point I’ve learned as I have made the transition to a lifestyle that will help me obtain financial independence is just being different and accepting it. Being different from the norm in respect to spending less, not owning a car, not having the newest gadget, or not buying a 3,000 square foot home. Once you accept being different, then the rest is cake.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Being a weirdo can be a badge of honor 🙂 I wear that badge proudly

      Better for me though is having a group of friends that think similarly, or at least are encouraging and supportive

  12. Courtney says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It’s always inspiring to read or see how others have made the “impossible” a reality. Nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it. Societal norms or peer pressure might make things seem impossible but you and others in the FI and ER communities are role models for the rest of us following in your footsteps. We will be retiring to the lives we want in the next 4-5 years and will continue reading your blog to keep us inspired and on our chosen path to the lives we will love.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Awesome, congrats Courtney. 4-5 years will go by in a flash

      Thank you for your kind comment, it is very nice to know others are doing what we did

  13. Nick Loper says:

    Love it! Such an inspiring story and mindset. I wish I learned this stuff 15 years ago — definitely would have made some different decisions. Thanks for the shoutout Jeremy!

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      My pleasure Nick, you have a really cool site. Hopefully a few side hustle ideas inspire a new wave of ER enthusiasts

  14. Great article. It’s so inspiring to hear stories about Financial Independence. Thanks for exposing the formula. If we continue to talk about it and share it with the world we’ll continue to change lives. My wife and I are also on that path and we can’t wait to get there.

  15. Tawcan says:

    I feel like you need to put a book together to educate more people. 🙂

  16. I think the most important thing on the list is to maximize income in order to achieve early retirement. Income is the Jet Fuel that will get you to where you want to go.

    Living below your means has a pretty wide spectrum for many. In its simplest sense it means to spend less than you make. But as you pointed out, many people should be saving 50-70% of their income.

    For many that is going to mean focusing on the expense side of the equation in order to optimize their savings. While for others who are less willing to give up some luxuries (Me), can focus on increasing their income while maintaining their spending level to achieve the same 50-70% savings rate.

    And of course investing your surplus and time to watch those dollars compound over time.

    Love the penny doubled example. Its my favorite story from “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson.


  17. FI Fighter says:

    Great article and very inspiring! As a 30 year old anxious to pull the plug, I can say that I’m very much looking forward to living a location independent life, such as what you guys have done.

    Glad to see everything working out so well!

  18. Retiring in your 30s is possible, but being retired and being self-sufficient are two different things. An Entrepreneur is financially independent, but not retired.

    Time will tell if it will last, the skills you develop now, and the savings you are able to accumulate will make a large difference when you get older.

  19. Jean says:

    It took until my early 50s to get a job that paid what I needed to save for retirement. From my teenage years I worked many jobs, usually more than one at a time and usually earning just enough to make a simple living and take off a year or so here and there to travel or visit or study.

    Finally, aged 52, I was offered my first full-time, permanent government job with a good salary and saved half of it, mostly invested in a government supported superannuation account, until I was made redundant 10 years later. (Mind you, it probably took until that age for me to be able to tolerate a full time permanent job!)

    They paid me nearly a year’s salary to go away. That payout topped up my savings enough to get me just over the line with my retirement savings. Took off my shoes the day I left work and never put them on again. 18 months later I have a bit more in the account than when I started. Haven’t managed to keep to 4% spending, am closer to 8% at the moment. But have also been travelling for a year of that time and just got my open water dive certificate in Key West. Heading for Europe at the end of the month.

    Still not sure where, when or if I will ‘settle down’ and may find I need some income later; and when I am eligible, in another 18 months, I’ll work with the government age pension scheme to maximise my income. And I may want to do something that brings in a little income at some point. I can enjoy working.

    Fortunately, my whole life has been spent keeping costs down. I drink water, for example. Finding cheap deals is useful but can be tricky and a bit hit and miss, especially if you have advance timetables to maintain or the opposite, if you find yourself with no plans and nothing serendipitous guides you to an affordable option.

    So, I have come a little late to this party, though with a lot of experience travelling and working in foreign lands throughout my life in preparation for this peripatetic later lifestyle. Fortunately, I am well enough to enjoy it. I do muse on where and when to settle, if that becomes necessary.

  20. Shannon says:

    Love this post!! Thanks for sharing. It is very inspiring and I plan to try to mirror you efforts to become financially independent.

  21. zascha says:

    I want this!! So inspiring.

  22. Cyberpilot says:

    Load of crap, assuming you can get out of college debt free, have access to a job where you can ride your bike to work in a climate that you can do so, and live in shoebox. Heck many places, a shoebox apartment will cost you $1000/mo. Not to mention having kids, child care, etc. Pipe dream for the fortunate that their mommy and daddy paid for their college education.

    And where’s this 6-figure engineering income with only 3-4 years of college. I’ve been in engineering for 20 years and still haven’t broken that six figure barrier.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      I think I said something very similar when I first came across the concept of Early Retirement about 15 years ago (except I probably used the word, “bullshit”)

      I am grateful that my younger self, despite being quite thick headed, was able to set aside self-limiting beliefs and open up to new ideas

      • Love this. And I’ve found it so true in my life. I never planned to retire at 33. But after growing up so far below the poverty line, I knew I wanted to live differently. Sometimes you just have to be open and prepared for opportunity. We can limit ourselves with every excuse and by just giving into cultural expectations. If we want a different outcome we have to make different choices. No one paid for our education, we never broke 6 figure income, and we had kids. No excuses, just loving being FI.

    • Jean says:

      Wonderful parents taught me a lot, especially how to be self sufficient. When I left home at 19, even though I failed my last 4 years of school and didn’t graduate, I had already been working full-time for two years in various jobs and was fully paying my own way, did so for my entire adult life. Sometimes I had four or five jobs all at the same time.

      My parents never gave me any money, though I gave them a fair bit in their final years and took time out to stay with them for months at a time as a carer, eight months 24/7 while Mother died, in fact.

      A good employer allowed me to bundle various leave packages, including my sick leave, and facilitated my working via internet for short periods, so I could care for my parents, who lived overseas, in that final decade.

      Good government policies also helped; I was lucky to live in a place at a time when educational opportunities came my way without armloads of debt, and where there is nationalised medicine. Good fortune in general and modest desires also ensured there was never anything I needed in education or medicine or anything else that I couldn’t have managed to pay for myself.

      So, there was a mixture of good fortune and keeping an eye out for ways to initiate entry into positive opportunities, being open to the new! And, I guess at the bottom of it all is what my parents gave me, resilience, self-reliance, confidence, love of life, and undying curiosity to seek out the best of life and live life anew as much as I can.

  23. Nice summary post, you could use this as a introductory/primer post for the “welcome new readers” section (if that’s not what it was already written for of course!)

    All the best


    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Hi TFS, yeah I need to add some links to all of our most popular stuff on the Start Here page. I thought this was an OK summary for a single post

  24. BaileyQ says:

    Hi Jeremy, thank you for sharing your journey! I agree with your idea of renting over buying. My questions is there ever a situation that buying makes more sense than renting? The monthly rent in San Diego, CA is almost as high as the monthly mortgage. For a one bedroom apartment 700 – 800 sf the rent is about $1,800 – $2,000. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you!

    • Jean says:

      Just one more thought on this rent vs buy issue, as it is something I have toyed with. When I was preparing to be made redundant, I wanted to know if I should put my savings toward buying a place or keep renting as I’d done all my life.

      To be honest, I still cannot answer that question, mainly because I’m still travelling and do not know where I would want to stay ‘permanently.’

      At the time I was paying $2,400 monthly for a 2 bedroomed flat near the centre of Sydney, and near the beach. (It was my 1 year nice-place-to-live reward to see out my last year at work.)

      Anyway, the advice I was given, after a great deal of research, is this – First of all you can do the numbers, that will tell you objectively whether there is a financial advantage to either scenario.

      In some cases, like mine, the numbers aren’t all that different; so what you need to do is write out the list or pros and cons for each scenario and decide for yourself whether owning a place would be what you really want. There is a far larger emotional investment in owning a place.

    • Hi BaileyQ

      There are some situations where buying makes more sense. You can do the math via an online Rent vs Own calculator, although the math is really only a small piece of the analysis. Somebody commented on another post that their house is still worth less than when they bought it 8 years ago

      I would also ask these questions:
      Does living in the location of this house provide for an efficient lifestyle?
      Do I plan to stay in this location for the next 30+ years?
      Is this my dream house, the one I would choose before all others?
      Is this house the right size for my goals for the rest of my life?
      If I had $1 billion, would I buy this house?
      Do I love this house so much, that if the neighborhood went south and a crack dealer moved in next door, I wouldn’t want to move?

      For most people, the answer to these questions is probably no.

      If rent is $2k/month, then ideally you would be earning at least $10k/month, or due to high California income taxes, $12k/month. If this is not the case, moving to a new location could be a good financial choice. Even in this case, $2k/month is insane and I would look for roommates

      If for non-financial reasons SD is home forever (family, etc…) then renting a room in somebody’s house, or renting a larger apartment with roommates can significantly reduce costs



  25. madeline curren says:

    i agree on so many levels that it works to live a frugal life…for financial, enviromental,and moral reasons. But work at a job I didn’t like just for money? I don’t think I could do it.
    I love my work and I am grateful every day that I get to do it… the fact that I get paid for it is also wonderful!

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      I wouldn’t recommend working a job you didn’t like either. But for most people, they are capable of enjoying (as much as possible) many different types of jobs, in which case it would make sense to choose a type that pays the most (or perhaps disliking many jobs equally, but you still have to eat)

      I liked my job a lot, and over time I liked it less and less.

      Maybe the question to ask is, “If you had $1 billion, would you still do the same job in the same way you do now, every day.” If the answer is yes, then congratulations

      • madeline says:

        Yes I think I would,,,but a) it’s hard to imagine a billion! and b) since I work for myself (I’m a psychotherapist in private practice)and only work 15 hours a week …and still find the work gratifying and enriching after two decades I think I would.
        That said I still think ,even at a slower pace,it is still important to achieve financial independence.That way my work remains a choice…which I find changes everything

  26. Kelli says:

    Could I ask what you might think of a cash value variable adjusted life insurance as a way for investing? I’m scared I was suckered in to purchasing one because of its tax free withdrawal but I”m afraid it’s too late to change? I know you aren’t an investment advisor or in the business to give investment advice but I rather ask someone who has experience with investing rather than seek out advice from an advisor for the fear of being suckered into more bad investments so they can earn commission.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      I’m afraid I don’t know much about these.

      I had a financial adviser try to sell me one once, and the math was pretty horrible due to the funds having a 4.5% front loaded fee and high e/r

  27. mikebelt68 says:

    I am inspired by your tried and proven logic. I, however, am in my late 40’s, 1 son about to get married and the other about to go to college (in which I’ve shared your blog with, hoping they will practice its implementation). My wife and I, late bloomers, have decided to make it a goal to reduce our debt, until debt free. I do not make a lot of money. I want to be able to volunteer when and where, be able to buy a plane ticket at the drop of a hat to visit our boys (and soon to be families). Any advice? Our is it to, simply, do as you’ve done, but start now?

    • Never too late to start. I am in touch with a guy I “met” through Mr Money Mustache who started this life at 160k in debt. It took 17 years, and he could have retired sooner, but he ended up with over 2 million net worth before he quit his job forever. You BET you can do it!

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Thanks Mike! I wish I had read some of this at college age too, what a boost that would have been

      The same methodology works at any age. The best time to start is today.

  28. Matt says:

    Great website and you guys remind me of my girlfriend and myself (She’s 32 and im 34) We to are seen as weirdos among our friends and family for our less than luxurious lifestyle. However, joke is now on them as we are more or less semi retired at the moment and could probably fully retire at any point if we wanted to. But we both enjoy the work we do part time and we’re both self employed. I also invest and started learning the ropes a few years ago. I was lucky to have a great financial adviser recommended to me as well, and that’s the single best thing that’s ever happened to our goal of being financially free. We’ve scrimped and scraped and live as cheap as possible for many years… with family, renting vacation rentals off season, living in small studios etc. Glad to see there is another couple like us, just further proving the point the current american lifestlye/dream is a serious flawed attempt at life and being happy. We are currently planning on a 12 month RV road trip around the US, Canada and Alaska. Now to me that’s the american dream. We will be blogging about our journey/life as well. Hoping to head out this fall. Just nursing a pretty bad leg injury back to health and then we are gone!

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Welcome to the freak show haha

      Sounds like a great plan, maybe we’ll see you out there on the wide open road

  29. Hello GCC…I was surfing the net and saw the Yahoo article about you two. Interested enough to click the link and started reading. And reading. And reading. And reading. It was as if through you I discovered a world that I had no idea even existed.

    Then I started googling some people you mentioned and reading some more. The legendary Mr Money Mustache, for example, and the ERE site.

    In 1 day I did a complete 180. I went to work a spending sucker and came home that evening with my hair on fire.

    I’ve been living on beans and rice for coming up on two weeks (with some variation here and there). I’ll loosen up as I learn some recipes and inexpensive shopping at WinCo and Costco. Gone are the trips to New Seasons, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.

    Just bought a bike off of CL and preparing to sell the car (I have an 18 mile commute one way, but since I’m living rent and utility free for the time being I don’t plan to move!) which has payments. I can bike 8 miles to a light rail stop, use that to the nearest stop by my job, and bike 2 more miles…and I have a free public transit pass through my job.

    Also have a free L.A. Fitness membership through my job, though I bet I’ll be too tired to use it for a few weeks.

    Just ordered cell phones from Republic to get a monthly cell bill of maybe 60 instead of the 176 from Verizon. Phones on the way.

    Tracking every cent to see where spending is going and trimming the fat as we find it, and paying strict attention to people like you and your wife who have gone this way before. My wife is on board and we are set like flint for the horizon, baby.

    Thanks for getting your story out there!

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Awesome, way to take action!

      I love that you started before having perfect information, because you know it is possible and can figure out the nuances along the way. You are going to rock this early retirement thing!

      My old bike commute had 3 possible routes, 8 miles, 21 miles, or 23 miles. The 8 mile route was similar to yours, I would bike about 1 mile to a bus hub, take the bus over the bridge across the lake, and then bike another 7 miles. On really nice weather days or if work was extra stressful, I would do the longer rides around the lake. Now the only thing I really miss about work is the bike commute 🙂

  30. Tom says:

    The name of it sounds confusing to me but it’s never too late to change. Figure out the easiest way to get out of it and open a brokerage account to buy a low fee index fund

  31. Tom says:

    Here is a quote I found online at…
    “If Wall Street with its high fees and slimy ways is an ogre, and cash-value life insurance salesmen are trolls, variable life insurance is what you get when they mate-the worst of both worlds.”

  32. Megan Wise says:

    I’m so inspired and encouraged by your story!!! About 6 months into our marriage my husband and I decided to stop acting like we had money. We moved into a tiny ~300 square foot apartment and have been kicking debts butt ever since! We only live on 50% of our income. Its so much easier than we thought! Thank you for your blog. O I can’t wait to read EVERYTHING!!!

  33. Great post, some of the examples you make are really eye opening such as the compounding interest. I’m trying to do what I can to follow those 4 steps to financial independence, I have a ways to go but I’m getting there.

  34. To be an encouragement to those in different situations… We are “work optional” where our passive investments more than covers our basic expenses. I’m 32, hubby 37. We have never had a combined income more than 80k a year, averaging around 40-50k. We own a 4b/2b home and are expecting our 5th child. There are a lot of paths to make it work, if that freedom really matters to you.

  35. L'Oreal Likourgos says:

    I love reading articles like this because I’m very determined to be well off in my 30s! However, I feel inspired than I get a bit discouraged with my situation. Is all of this possible when you’re married and only living on one income? We do try to minimize where we can, but the both of us combined have credit card debt, thankfully under 2 grand, a wedding loan, and of course the favorite college loans. I have a good job and will be working on my Masters soon to keep moving up. Where do we even begin to start the journey to becoming financially wealthy and well off? Doesn’t have to be in our 30s, but I would love for it to happen sooner than later.

    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Pay off debt, live below your means, save the difference. It is simple, but not easy

      Aim for a 25% savings rate or more. It isn’t saving that we can’t afford, it is the other things we believe we need (weddings, cars, etc..)

  36. Tobias Madigan says:

    Okay, I need help wrapping my mind around this, sorry, haha. So, I have completed steps one and two. I have zero debt and I have maximized my income to the point where I am bringing in almost $90,000 a year before taxes. I am able to live off of about $3500-$4200 per month. That means I can save about $3500 per month.

    How long is it going to take me to be able to retire and still make the same amount per month? According to the calculations here I need to save about $1.2 dollars (and have that well invested).

    If I lower it to 1 million dollars, which should be fine, it will still take me almost 24 years to save that amount.

    So, I’m trying to figure out, how is this done in 10 years???

    Would love to chat with any expert about it and happy to pay for the consultation if needed.



    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Hi Tobias

      You are doing mattress math, as in “what would happen if you just stuffed the savings under your mattress?”

      If you invest it in a diversified portfolio of index funds, historically that has returned about 10%/year (net.) Now instead of 24 years, it take only 12.

      Use tax advantaged accounts to increase savings & focus time and energy on living the same quality of life with less money (cook better than restaurant quality food at home, learn to love your bike, etc..) and now you are Financially Independent in under a decade



  37. BeSmartRich says:

    Very well written. Your blog is the one that I keep coming back to read articles that I haven’t read whenever I have time. Maximizing income, Live below means, invest and wait are really the 4 pillars of achieving financial independence.

    Wanted to let you know that you guys are my inspirations.



  38. Shaquille says:

    Hi Curry Cracker,

    Thank you for creating such a useful blog. I am going to be 32 this year in August. I have saved and invested aprrox. $205,000 in a Vanguard index fund and have $45,000 in a retirement account. I earn around $4,000 after tax monthly from my job (started 5.5 years ago) and $450 dollars from dividends every month. My monthly expenses are approximately $1,800. Not very interested to own a home or have any children at the moment Survived two emergency brain surgeries in Jan 2015. If my health, financial and lifestyle conditions does not change much, do I continue to save and invest in the high yield index fund. (tax friendly). Would appreciate your advise in regards to managing my finance over the next five-ten years.Thank you.

  39. Gen says:

    Go Curry Cracker,

    YOUR thoughts and best QUICK tips on this scenario: best appreciated!

    College edition/New graduate edition:

    1. Almost 24 years old in the incoming year and will be working my first new graduate job making anywhere from 40k-49k starting. Let’s say median 45k. (Do not have this income now – my first paycheck is in the near future). I am in the medical field – RN. No dependent family members.

    2. Background: I come from a single parent low-income upbringing. I have never pulled out a credit card (hence no credit). I survived school through scholarships and loans. I owe 27,500. I used just a tad less than 5k in loans per year post high school and that includes a bit of interest over the years. Technically, I only pulled out 26,XXX. *sigh*

    3. My expenses: this coming year feel just like everyone else. I am moving to a new (small) city to start my new graduate job here in this coming year (Jan 2017), (rent in a small apt is around 1k/month without adding utilities), have a car that is very needed for transportation with monthly payments, cell phone (the cheap walmart monthly plan allowed on smart phone), internet (cheapest package from comcast – no cable); car insurance. I would like to sign up for health insurance through the job I am hired at; food, gas, and so on. I think the picture is very relatable and I am sliding by, making it on my own, with no additional help.

    5. So my question: besides the known cook at home, cut cable, limit “fun” spending etc. What are your tips on INVESTING or putting aside money in this FIRST year of working (as it takes years to learn and read about this information, and this will be another one of my goals during this year is to read your site, blogs, books, tax information, other people’s ways of saving money, 401k, Roth, etc). This is all new to me. Very new.

    However, right now, it’s a bit overwhelming. *chuckle* Give me time.

    Yet, it is also very interesting. Therefore, I will continue learning and reading about this in the coming year and over my life.

    I would like your insight on the first couple of things to do when I start getting my first paycheck to start saving money/investing.

    So what should I do immediately, with my first paycheck?!?!:)

    This is what my very uneducated mind, regarding money, comes to think: (don’t laugh:)

    1. Pay my living monthly expenses as stated.

    2. Pay my monthly student loans. I have no clue what it will be – I will use their website to determine a monthly payment fee here soon. I am thinking anywhere 200-400 dollars/month?!

    3. Contribute to my 401k monthly, even if 50 dollars (depending how much money I have left over in my paycheck 200-400?! Thoughts!?

    4. If I want to invest money and pay monthly into it (and then let it compound over time) – where do I even go to, to who? A bank? A website? Wow, I feel so inadequate. Thoughts, tips?

    What is a good deal on interest compound deal…I probably have this all wrong. I know once I have a good moment to sit down after graduation and really look into, hopefully I can have a better grasp on what a good rate is to invest money that compounds over time.

    Even if you provide a quick suggestions and answers to these questions that would be great!:)

    Thank you,

    Excited to graduate here soon.

    Hopefully, you could also do a blog post about this more-indepth.


    • Go Curry Cracker says:

      Hi Gen… quick tips:

      – reconsider your living plans. Maybe rent a 4 bedroom house with 3 roommates and pay 1/3 or 1/4 the rent. You have debt… so living alone is ridiculously luxurious.
      – try to locate this house within biking distance of work. You have debt… owning a car is ridiculously luxurious.
      – Read this book. Get it for free from the library. You have debt… so buying books is ridiculously luxurious.
      – contribute the minimum to your 401k to get a company match – invest in low-cost index funds. Spending this money on your normal cost of living is ridiculously luxurious.
      – no ridiculously luxurious living until your student loans are paid off… no dining out, no travel, no buying “new” stuff, etc…

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