The longer I’ve been retired, the more I’m convinced that everyone should pursue financial independence. I felt trapped while working, and that feeling kept growing as everyday started to look the same. Now, I don’t necessarily know what I’ll be doing the next day, week, or month. But every day I wake up and find myself full of purpose. The fulfillment that comes from living my life the way I want has left me happier than I’ve ever been. I want all of my friends to experience the same thing.
One of the things I love about traveling is the chance to enjoy mountains, rivers, forests, and cities that other people call home. In seeing how other people live, I also come to appreciate our own little backyard on this vast planet. While we search the globe for new adventures, there are also cities I haven’t visited, and trails I haven’t hiked all within a few hours of home. Since our Spain trip, I’ve been happy staying home gardening and tinkering. Instead of another long adventure, we opted to close out the summer with a short road trip to a part of Vermont we hadn’t seen.
I’ve been trying to convince my friend Lorenzo to pursue financial independence, and I think he’s starting to see the benefits. Recently married, he’s started saving aggressively, paying down debt, and tracking their net worth which he shared with me. “Holy crap!” I exclaimed, “You guys almost have enough to retire in Costa Rica!” He didn’t share my enthusiasm. “Yeah, but most of our money is locked up in 401ks.” I remember thinking the same thing – 401k investments are like funny money, useless until retirement age. Then I learned there are strategies for making early withdrawals without any penalties.
I used to think I needed over an acre of land to have a decent farm, and our retirement ideas included starting a homestead. In the meantime, I began with a small garden on our 1/4 acre plot. A few years later, we also started raising chickens. We now grow more vegetables than we can eat, and get fresh eggs everyday from our little urban farm. It turns out that I didn’t need acres of land, I just needed to sharpen my skills and get creative.
We just bought a “new” used Prius for $3,250. It has high miles, but is in mint condition. We grabbed the car the day it popped up on Craigslist. Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything to check in the heat of a transaction, so I decided to create this used car inspection checklist and buying guide.
Boasting a Mediterranean climate, delicious tapas, afternoon siestas, and a cheap cost of living, Spain has long been on our list of destinations. After years of waiting, we found an opportunity to go to for free by travel hacking. After flying into Barcelona, we rented a car and spent 16 days exploring the beaches, cities, vineyards, and mountains of Catalonia. What we found was a premium lifestyle at bargain prices.
In 2016, travel was one of our biggest expenses. Every few months, we get a hankering to see new things and taste different cultures. For us it’s worth it because we always return from our adventures with new perspectives, recipes, and ideas. I thought our travels would be limited after I gave up my cushy salary, but thanks to travel hacking, we’ve been going on more trips than ever. Over the past year, we’ve travel hacked close to $10,000 in flights and accommodations. Just recently, we flew to Barcelona and road tripped around Catalonia – our flights and Airbnbs were all free.
Last year, after working 20 years in jobs ranging from cafeteria worker to engineer, I came to a new milestone. My wife and I had been saving for years, and with our net worth exceeding a million dollars, we were financially independent. Tired of chasing money, I wanted to be able to pursue new hobbies, travel, and learn. So I quit my job. A year later, I can say this has been the most incredible experience of my life.