The Slow Boat To Early Retirement

I like to think of us as the tortoise in the Tortoise and The Hare story. We started on this financial independence/early retirement (FIRE) idea later, we’re going slower, but we will get there in the end.

Our Next Life issued a Road Less Traveled Challenge to ask FIRE bloggers how they are charting their own unique path to early retirement.

Things we might have in common with a lot of the FIRE set:

  • One of us is an engineer with a relatively high income. It’s not as high as it could be, though, because we choose to stay near family and keep a 40 hour workweek instead of 50-60.
  • Our kids are in public schools.
  • We have no debt other than a mortgage. We are avoiding more student loan debt by paying cash for my master’s in nursing education.
  • We ditched cable and landlines years ago.
  • We have a low food budget of $100/week, eat lots of lentils, and try and keep entertainment spending to $100/month.
  • I work from home and the kids take the bus to school, so I put very few miles on our minivan.
  • We are still using our ancient furniture and have done almost nothing to decorate our house in the 11 years we have been here.
  • Our kids wear used clothing and hand-me-downs.
  • We have Vanguard accounts.
  • We don’t pay for day care. Three kids in day care isĀ over 2 grand a month around here. I work float pool for an insurance company as a nurse and pay for a sitter for the younger two kids. She lives a street over and we can walk there on nice days. I hope to teach nursing part-time for an online program when I am done with my degree to supplement my current job, and that shouldn’t require another sitter.
  • We’re at about 19-20% of our retirement savings goal. We are shooting for 1.2 million.


Things we do not have in common:

  • We have three kids. Yep, we wanted three. They were all on purpose. I wanted more, but thanks to high risk pregnancies, we capped it at three.
  • We aren’t Millennials and there will never be a story on this blog about retiring at 30. We left 30 behind quite a long time ago. I am 38 and the mister is 48. He doesn’t want to retire until his 60s because he loves his work, and I want to retire in 15 years or less. I have a chronic health issue and want us to be financially secure in case it becomes so bad I cannot work.
  • While we max our Roths, we don’t yet max the mister’s 403b.
  • I work part-time (though I am slowly working on cobbling together work that can match my previous full time nurse income).
  • We bought our minivan new in 2014. (In our defense, we needed something specific that could also be used to carry two 11 foot long 100 pound each steel underwater hockey goals plus have a backup camera for my Hobbit-sized self, and the used market was not forthcoming.)
  • Speaking of cars, we have two of them. The mister has a 30 minute commute to work, and we have three kids with health issues. There are months we have 10 medical appointments plus school activities, scouts, etc. We live in the burbs and a car for me is a must. Biking everywhere while hauling three kids in a bike trailer is not going to happen, especially with arthritis. I only drive about 20 miles a week though, mostly thanks to telecommuting, babysitter one street over, and the school bus.
  • We have smart phones and don’t have Republic Wireless. We are happy with our service and don’t want to switch. We paid cash for our phones and mine is 4 years old and slowly circling the drain.
  • We don’t own bikes.
  • We don’t save/invest 70% of our income. It’s closer to 30% of gross income. This should increase once I am done with grad school and earning more next year. Since the average American is only saving about 4%, I’m not going to cry in my Cheerios about that too much.

What about you? Are your goals early retirement, normal retirement, or “I’m screwed and will work until I drop”? Are you saving anything at all?