Share your early retirement secrets - USA TODAY interview request

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Post by USATMatt »

Dear Early Retirement Extreme readers:
Hoping you might be able to share some of your pointers and insights on how you successfully retired extremely early or plan to for a story for USA TODAY.
Many readers are discouraged by the daily grind and looking for hope that they can get off the cubicle. They feel cheated by the traditional advice they're getting about lackluster 401(k)s and disappearing pensions.
If you're in your 20s, 30s or 40s and are retired or close to it, if you could share your experiences it would help many others who would like to do the same, but are unsure of themselves. It's helpful to see that this is possible, as long as you're willing to make lifestyle choices.
If you can email a phone to reach you on, that would be appreciated.
Matt Krantz


Twitter: @mattkrantz

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Post by Dragline »

You may also want to put out a feeler to the forum board at People can be a little shy here in Hobbiton.
BTW, I'm not the droid you're looking for.

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Post by secretwealth »

Dammit, this is my turf!

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Post by sshawnn »

I say talk to this guy

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Post by C40 »

1 - Read Jacob's book .
2 - Read the blog.
3 - Read the journals here in the forum. There are people close to FI, people who have achieved FI and still work, and people who have retired. If you PM a few people, some might be willing to talk.
I'm glad that you wrote "make lifestyle CHOICES" and not "sacrafices". Please -- hen trying to explain the concept, make it clear that most of the choices and changes we (people who reach FI / retire early) make are NOT sacrifices. If you don't explain this very well, people will read the article and conclude "so they must not do anything all day - they try to never spend money - that's not retired!!".(some will even think that if you do explain it well because the concept of making intentional, reasoned decisions is unfortunately alien to so many)
Here are two personal examples:
1 - I used to live in a big city, 35 miles from work. I thought (like many people my age do) that I should live in the city so I can be close to the activities and fun things here. A couple years ago I decided to move closer to work. Close enough to walk to work in a few minutes. My rent is cheaper now in a small town, and my spending on gas is very low. The difference in spending from rent, gas, etc. is $7,000 per year. Also, now I have at least one hour more of free time every workday. Time that I used to spend sitting in my car thinking about work. It is so much better now. I have more time for exercising, reading, cooking healthy food, etc.. I am not sacrificing anything at all. My life is significantly better because of this choice - before even considering the money difference.
2 - I have a plot at a community garden very close to where I work (less than 1 block away). I always take my own lunches to work. It's easier, healthier, and faster than going out for lunch - and oh yeah, also cheaper. During the summer, I'm eating some food for lunch that I grew in the garden. Then after I eat, I take a walk out to the garden and water it. Summers are very nice out where I live so it is a perfect break/walk, and I enjoy gardening a lot. This is while my coworkers are getting in their car and driving to a restaurant, ordering food and then waiting idly while someone else cooks food that was fed/doused with god knows what, and shipped from god knows where, and then loaded up with butter and sodium for them by the cook. For this, they pay 5-10x more than I do per lunch. Over a year this is a couple thousand dollars. I am not sacrificing anything at all. My life is significantly better because of this choice - before even considering the money difference.

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Post by Dream of Freedom »


"People can be a little shy here in Hobbiton."

I wonder who is in the Took family.

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Post by Carlos »

I don't think I'd make a good case study. With my situation I can save a very large percentage but still have a conventional middle-class life. I can just see the complainypant comments.
This year I'll save 80% of my income and plan to FIRE in 24 months. I've reached the executive level in my career however and earn well above $100K. I'm also an expat so I don't pay for a phone (work blackberry) or a car. They even give me a cash hardship allowance. The readers would say "of course I could save 80% if I was an expat with no kids and earned over $100K".
The more interesting trend in my fiscal life and I assume with many others here is how we've lowered our expenses over our careers. I spend less today (before being an expat) than I did when I started my post-grad school career. Out of school I got a fancy apartment, had student loans and bought a BMW. Now I earn 3X's what I did in those days but I drive a Jetta and have a modest house (back in the states).
I realized two things after the 2008 financial meltdown. Money and time are related (you trade one for another as a working person) and my happiness isn't driven by the label on my car/jeans/shoes.
I could have upgraded to a BMW 5 series (I LOVE my friend's new one with the M-series leather interior) and to a 4 bedroom house like my colleagues. I've chosen not to however because those material things aren't what bring me true joy.
My happiness comes from my partner, my precious cat, coffee and the paper in the morning, budget traveling (hostels), friends, family... you get the picture.
TIME and FREEDOM are worth too much to exchange them for a fancy car that depreciates in the driveway.

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Post by secretwealth »

Fuck it--I'll do it. I semi-retired in 2012 after about a year of savings, and could probably fully retire next year at the rate I'm going.

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Post by mikeBOS »

I can hear the pitchforks being sharpened already.

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Post by Dragline »

Did somebody say pitchforks?

Scott 2
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Post by Scott 2 »

Anyone new to the ERE approach - extreme savers are generally not presented well in the press, and there is no reward to making your wealth / lifestyle public, unless you are a lifestyle blogger. I'd encourage thinking twice before participating with something like this.

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Post by Seneca »

@scott2- If you believe this lifestyle needs to be promoted, it might be worth doing to some. You'd probably get less attention than you think if it's only one article.
Not for me though, for reasons Carlos mentions, plus...I don't want to exactly promote the fact under my name for professional reasons until I actually am FI.

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Post by secretwealth »

@Scott 2 - That is, unless you get the ear of a sympathetic journalist who believes in your cause (hint hint).

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Post by borisborisboris »

Scott2 - that is the reason I haven't responded. I have seen the comments of a couple of the articles that Jacob was featured in, and I know it would just make me mad and stressed.
I do think Seneca makes a good point, though. Getting the word out about ERE could really help some people (it has helped me).
For someone with thicker skin, I would urge you to talk to secretwealth first, given his contributions to this board and familiarity with the nuances of the issue at hand. (No offense to the USAT.)

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Post by jacob »

FWIW, USA Today contacted me looking to interview me and perhaps a few forum members. I said he was free to ask here for volunteers.
Personally, I declined the invitation.
NB: Secretwealth writing a similar article was entirely coincidental unless we should take the increasing popularity of these articles as a contrarian signal that the economy is turning around.

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Post by palmera »

just tell the USA Today guy to direct their readers to this blog/forum :)
I hesitate to discuss this opening based on the reaction of friends and family which is usually a combo of "WHY ARE YOU WORKING SO MANY JOBS DON'T YOU SLEEP?" and "WHY DON'T YOU EVER COME BINGE DRINKING WITH US ANYMORE?" and "I CAN'T BELIEVE THE LAST TIME YOU WENT SHOPPING WAS TWO YEARS AGO."
What I'm trying to say is that all the tools and info are out there (here) but I'm feeling like not many ppl are willing to so drastically alter (scale back) their lifestyle. Even though it's 100% worth it.

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Post by FarmOne »

USA Today is a mainstream news rag. The majority of their audience is mainstream America - not unlike those chained to the floor in Plato's cave.
There is a curiosity among those that sells papers, but when something doesn't match their perceptions, it is dismissed as craziness. Like the common dichotomy here - why would people who have nest eggs and investments live a simple and frugal lifestyle? They must be crazy?
Count me in Hobbiton. It's unsafe to be singled out of the flock.
BTW, I have three pitch forks...

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Post by JoeNCA »

I've never been comfortable about discussing my own finances in public, save this forum.
That's because this forum is a modern form of masquerade and I know I will never meet anyone on here, let alone recognize them even if I did.
Somethings are best left hidden.

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Post by JohnnyH »

Ooh me, me!

Please parade me as leperous wingnut to help keep the masses spending blindly!
Sorry, too many hatchet jobs on frugal people in MSM. Also, who would want the publicity of using their real name? Not I.

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