Is it really possible to quit your career and leave it all behind before you’re 40? That’s the question I had when I started Retire By 40 in 2010. I had been a computer engineer at Intel since 1996, but the job wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. They needed senior engineers who can lead people and projects. That wasn’t me and the job became more and more stressful. My physical and mental health deteriorated and I knew I had to get out.
Journey to early retirement
I started Retire By 40 to keep tab of my early retirement journey. It was a place to share my aspiration for Financial Independence. This was where I planned my exit strategy from the corporate world and our readers kept me accountable. I had to make a detailed plan and follow through. Eventually, I gave my notice and left the corporate world forever (hopefully) in July 2012.
Wow, did it take just 2 years to achieve my early retirement goal? Not really. I had been saving and investing since I started working full time in 1996. My wife was also a huge part of the equation. She is generally frugal and now fully supportive of my endeavors. She was pregnant when I told her I’m starting a blog named Retire By 40. Of course, she didn’t like that one bit. However, she got onboard when I showed her that we could maintain our lifestyle without my engineering income.
*My guide on How to Start a Blog and Why You Should. Everyone should have a blog. It’s a great way to build your brand and improve you writing. You could even make some extra income if you’re lucky.
We tracked our cash flow and saved all my income since 2010. Those 2 years gave us a chance to see if we could really survive with just one paycheck, our passive income, and my online income. Yes, Mrs. RB40 is still working. She likes working, which is great for our situation.
Can early retirement last?
It’s been over 4 years since I had to sit in a stuffy cubicle and life has been glorious. I’m ridiculously busy as a stay at home dad/blogger, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Notice that I didn’t say ‘quit working’ in the first paragraph. You don’t have to quit working when you retire. Many people volunteer, turn a hobby into a business, or start a second career when they retire. Every early retiree I know is still working in some capacity. It’s not good for your mental health to stop working completely while you’re still productive.
Here is how we pay the bills.
- Mrs. RB40’s job – I’m extremely lucky that Mrs. RB40 likes to work. The employer sponsored health insurance saves us a ton of money. She plans to retire by 2020.
- Real Estate Crowdfunding – I’m an investor with Realty Shares, one of the best real estate crowdfunding platforms. I plan to increase my investment to $100,000 this year. This is much better than peer to peer lending.
- Dividend Income Portfolio – Since 2010, I moved most of our after tax investment into dividend stocks. Dividend is the best passive income and it will grow as time goes by.
- Rental properties – We have a couple of rental properties and the income is good. They should pay off very well in the long run.
- Peer to peer lending – P2P lending has been a little disappointing for me. My ROI is around 7%. That’s not too bad, but I think P2P lending won’t do well when the economy head south. I’m slowly winding down our investment here. Now, I prefer to invest in real estate lending because properties are solid collateral.
- Online income – I’m making some money from Retire By 40 and other online ventures. This is nowhere near my old paycheck, but I’m my own boss and nobody tells me what to do. Also, I can spend most of my time being a dad and that’s priceless. Everyone should start a blog. It’s a great way to build your brand and explore your online income earning potential. Here is my tutorial on – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should.
We still live modestly and continue to save over $50,000 every year. Our monthly expense is mostly covered by our passive and online income. At this point, we are saving most of Mrs. RB40’s income. You can see how I’m doing with my passive income here.
Where Joe goes from here?
Can my brand of early retirement last? After 5 years of early retirement, it looks like we will be fine financially. The economy has been doing very well and our net worth doubled since I retired in 2012. It’s amazing, but I’m bracing for a downturn. The stock market can’t go up forever.
On the stay-at-home-dad front, things are much easier now that our kid is going to school full time. I have more time to spend on my blog and I can volunteer at school. We’re in the sweet spot now. He’ll probably be more trouble as he hit the teenage years, but that’s a way off. For now, it’s great to be a stay-at-home-dad.
At this point, I’m pretty sure I won’t be going back to a corporate environment. We’re doing well financially and life is great. That’s over for me. I love being self employed and would never trade it for a bigger paycheck.
If you have any questions or comments, write me through the contact page. It might take me a little time to respond, but I will try my best to get back to you.
Don’t wait until retirement to enjoy life!
Follow up – How Is Life One Year Into Retirement?
How’s life 2 years after retirement? – Pretty darn good. 🙂
3 years after retirement and still living the dream.
4 years after early retirement and I feel really good about my life.
5 years after early retirement – My best year yet. I love early retirement!
For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.
Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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