One year left. It sure took long enough for this early retirement expert to get here. The last four years have been long ones. Not bad. Just long. This journey started well before the blog did. Back in the fall of 2014 I was tired, stressed, and felt trapped in a career I had come to depend on for our livelihood.
Talk about first world problems, right?? Luckily I came across some damn good writers with blogs that opened my eyes to many new possibilities. Extra luckily, I had already started up a real estate rental side gig to (initially) help us pay for nanny wages. Five houses and four years later, and we’ve got a solid foundation of cash flowing assets.
Things come up of course. Like the new roof we had to put on our own house earlier this spring. Ring that one up for $5,750. And before that, one of the rentals decided it needed a new furnace right around the middle of a Minnesotan February. Another $3,000 CHA CHING! So yeah, best made plans, right?
Remembering How This Journey Started
Just like my friend (and REAL early retirement expert) Carl at 1500 Days, I devised a four-to-five year plan to exit the rat race. I set up my spreadsheet models and went through our spending with a fine-toothed comb. We changed insurance plans, dumped cable, switched cell phone plans, dumped the Keurig, and started bike commuting a few days a week. Craigslist and minimalism became new norms, and pivotal in our quest to focus less on stuff, and more on relationships and growth.
With my five-year plan, I had to guess on raises and bonuses at work, and the growth of our rental and chiro businesses. Total thumb and saliva. Early retirement expert, right? But all in all, we’ve been pretty much on track since that fateful fall of 2014. Ahh the good ol’ days.. That was the lovely autumn when I hit my wife over the head repeatedly with Mr. Money Mustache… Hoo boy…
I’ve been through three bosses and three work campuses since the journey began. I’ve turned down promotions twice, though have one likely in the works for later this year. The ability to say “no” and to take control of our future by saving like mo-fo’s led to more confidence at work. There’s a lot I’d say I owe to Mr. Money Mustache. It’s probably good he wasn’t home during our recent visit to Stashville, or he’d have experienced an awkward bear-hug from a complete (albeit grateful) stranger.
Remembering My Drivers
The kids are growing up fast. Another reason for staying focused on the mission at hand. Too often we spin our wheels managing dueling careers, only to turn around and see our kids already off to college and moving out of the house (or not moving out of the house and not paying rent). Getting to spend more time with the twins now, during their grade school years, will remove a YUGE potential regret later.
Life is a finite reel-to-reel tape of learning. You can learn a shit-ton at any stage of life, early retirement expert or not. Having time back with early retirement gives me an opportunity to figure out this gardening thing. What a riddle, even with the best manuals on my bookshelf. (I blame the two-week Minnesota growing season.) Pick up the guitar again? Sure! Maybe master the French language (a life goal I’d abandoned not long after returning from a visit to Paris)? Why not?? Heck, I could even learn how to write!
My health is important not only to me, but to my family as well. I want to be the dad who can still chase a ball around the yard, and suffer through a few tackles in the snow. Exercise gets a chunk of my time these days, but I can feel the need for more, as this 40-something body starts to hit those pesky reality checks. Oh, and stress sucks too.
Relationships need constant grooming. My wife, Mrs. Cubert, has been working super hard since before the kids came along, and it’s only picked up more over the years. Price of success? Yeah, her business ROCKS because she ROCKS. Problem is, there’s only so many hours in the day. Between my full-time job, the rentals, and this lovely blog, my ability to take more of the burden off her shoulders is less-than. Early-retired Cubert can step in to help take on chef duties, grocery shopping, and kid chauffeuring.
Mrs. Cubert is almost 10 years younger and will have an opportunity to retire early in her mid-40s if she so chooses. For now, she’s pretty content with a 30-hour a week gig and part-time hours at the gym she loves. I imagine it’ll be loads easier once she can rely on me to help with more of the household duties. (Don’t assume I’m not pulling my weight – I have lawn, garden, and many other misc. duties!)
THIS Early Retirement Expert Still has Homework to do
I’ve gotta get hot on this. I know how I can spend a good chunk of my day, with the tasks mentioned above. But there’s a healthy part-time jobbish amount of hours, maybe 20 a week, I could put to more productive use. One option that’s a possibility is joining a property management company here in town.
The realtor I use to find investment properties runs quite an empire with three other partners. Flips, rentals, sales, you name it. I might just go gang-buster Bigger Pockets and jump into THAT arena. I do not mind getting my hands dirty.
I won’t go over ground we’ve covered a few times already here. Suffice it to say, I’m still dead set on making early retirement happen next year. If by some odd chance I’m so happy with my cubicle job that I could do an Irish Jig come next July, well, maybe I will stick around long enough… Long enough to pay off the $60K in student loans we still owe. Even at 2% interest, debt is debt. Right?
Here’s what the forecast ledger looks like in retirement. This will be how we live, more or less, until the old man money kicks in at 59.5, in about (gulp) 13.5 years. (For a companion post, I might share our 2018 expenses next week. Stay tuned…)
Now, I’ll be the first to say “What the f*ck, Cubert! $63K annual living expenses? Really?!?” Yes, yes, it’s awful, I know. But hey, I’ve got bills to pay! Strip out the student loans and we’re at least down to $60K. Not bad, right? Oh, and nevermind the$100 weekly dining-out allowance. Remember, we live in the land of milk and mom-and-pop restaurant honey.
Honestly, the forecast is a bit of a wide target still, even with just a single year left in the game plan. In other words, gotta sharpen the pencil some more.
Early Retirement Expert “Unknowns”
Who knows where the health care insurance system will be by this time in 2019? More than anything, health insurance and health care out-of-pocket costs are the biggest unknown variables in this entire scheme. Shocker, eh? I’ll keep relying on my buddy Fritz to do the homework for me. He’s a PRO!
If I really buckle down, I might be able to make something of this blog and generate some meaningful income. I just need to be mindful of this little project not becoming an anchor, like say, a regular cubicle job. BLECHHH!!!
I love being a coach, so I’ve hung a shingle for financial, retirement, and real estate coaching on my “Work With Me” page. I must be doing SOMETHING right, if I’m sitting here writing to you about quitting my job at 46. (And honestly, taking hard lessons from my 20s and 30s into account, I’d have been done by 30 with a head, any head, screwed on straight.)
The best case scenario? The abandoned cubicle project ratchets down to a single, solid post per week, and I make a few side hustle bucks from it to donate to good causes. Not a bad retirement hobby. Would you agree, Abandon-Nation?
364, 363, 362… Just remember to live life in the moment, cuz it sure passes by faster and faster as we go.