The Awakening

Hi there, glad you’re here. This is my first post, originally published on 1/1/2013. If you’re new to this blog, this is a great place to start.

My goal is to retire in 1500 days at age 43. I am writing this on January 1, 2013, so if all goes according to plan, I’ll sail off into the sunset of early retirement in February of 2017, just in time to celebrate my 15th wedding anniversary.

The three parts you are about to read are my manifesto. Part 1 details how I arrived at this blog. Part II discusses the way you need to think in order to retire early. Part III breaks out my financial situation and the goals of the blog.

I. The awakening

Sunrise in Kauai

Sunrise in Kauai

My life was good. I had a job that paid well. I had two good kids and a good wife. I had two decent cars in a middle class enclave with nice neighbors.

We were smart with our money. I maxed out my 401(k) every year and even saved beyond that. When housing was going gangbusters and before we had kids, my wife and I flipped homes. We would buy older, outdated homes and spruce them up. We would live in them for a couple years, therefore not incurring any taxes on our gains and make a nice profit.

We had kids; two beautiful girls. I planned to raise them as best I could and send them on their way.

I planned to retire in my 60s and and retreat to some warm weather state. My life was ordinary.

Right around 2010, I started reading the JD Roth. He discussed how he attained early retirement by abandoning the ridiculous, debt intensive, consumerist lifestyle that most people seem to embrace. My journey had begun.

I started reading about other people with similar early retirement ideas. Mr. Money MuchtacheThe Simple DollarBrave New Life and Early Retirement Extreme all started to open my eyes to another way. A better way. The common thread was that financial independence early in life isn’t a silly dream, but an easily attainable goal if you play your cards just a little differently. Not only did most of these folks attain early retirement, but they did it without huge sacrifice. These aren’t investment bankers making millions a year, just normal folks who figured out what is important and what is not much earlier in life than most.

I was hooked.  I was awoken. I was now suddenly aware of an alternate universe where people in their 30s and 40s are able to retire with just little lifestyle tweaks here and there. Again, I have to reiterate; no get-rich-quick schemes; just smart decisions along with intelligent saving and investing. Some people will call the tweaks a compromise or too much to give up. Those people are still asleep and haven’t yet come to appreciate what truly matters.

So, do you want to work until you’re 80 or be able to retire to a beach in Costa Rica when you’re 45? I enjoy my work, so I’m not sure. What I do know though is that I want the freedom to choose! By rejecting a consumerist lifestyle and putting in a little hard work, you can set yourself free from the Matrix to live life on your terms. What could be better?

This is it. You get one life and one shot. In 80 years, we’ll all be worm food. Make the most of your time and live it the best you possibly can. Evaluate your value system carefully and figure out what is most important to you. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll come to the conclusion that experiences and family time trump an expensive car. Realizing this is your first step out of the Matrix.

Take the red pill and follow me.

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II. What really matters

Think about the happiest, most meaningful times in your life. I’ll give you a moment if you need it. Seriously, think about it for a day or a week or a month if necessary. Write these times down and then come back and read about mine.

OK, ready? Let’s get started. Here is my personal braindump:

  • I remember the holidays as a child. I remember my grandparents coming over on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would all sit down for a wonderful, homemade dinner and enjoy everyone’s company.
  • I remember our family vacations. They weren’t extravagant affairs. Sometimes we’d go camping and sleep in tents or the back of our pickup truck. We’d swim during the day and have camp fires at night.
  • I remember the joy I felt in college when I worked my ass off and earned As in difficult classes like organic chemistry and calculus. I felt on top of the world when I graduated at the top of my class in a difficult major.
  • I remember meeting my wife for the first time. We argued about pro-wrestling. That may sound a bit strange, but we clicked.
  • I remember my first child being born. She came out purple and quickly changed to a normal color after she took her first breath.  She didn’t utter a sound, not a scream or a cry. She seemed to look around, wondering where the heck she was and what was going on.
  • I remember my second child being born. She came out, took a deep breath and started screaming. I remember thinking “How can something so tiny make such a loud sound?” She didn’t stop screaming for almost 45 minutes.
  • I remember all of the crazy things our kids have said:
    • Do caterpillars fart?
    • Does thunder have legs?
    • When I grow up, I want to be a banana! (uttered with great enthusiasm)
  • Have you ever been to Yosemite National Park in the spring? Standing in the mist of 3000’ high waterfalls will reboot your soul.

Bridalveil Fall at Yosemite

Bridalveil Fall at Yosemite

What is the common thread in all of the above experiences? None involve possessions or buying stuff.

Not only do materialistic pursuits not generate long term happiness, but they are actually detrimental. If you have to work long hours to support a material lifestyle, what are you giving up? Are you going to miss your child’s first little league hit because you’re putting in long hours at the office? No one ever said on their deathbed (except maybe Steve Jobs) “I wish I had worked more.”

If you disagree with all of this, stop reading now. This is the fundamental principle of this blog. If you think that you need expensive things to make yourself happy, reevaluate your life. I’ve seen people who buy things to fill an emotional void in their life. Is this you? Find a different way to fill that void.


III. The goal: $1,000,000 and no debt

What would it take for me to retire early? I did some number crunching and a whole ton of research. Here are the main points:

  • How much money do we need?: My wife and I wrote all of our expenses in a book. Every time we returned from shopping or paid a bill, we logged it (more on this in a future post). Based on our logs, we can live on $2000/month or $24,000/year. This is assuming no mortgage or other debt. However, for safety’s sake, I’m bumping this up a bit to $30,000.
  • No debt: Currently, all of our cars are paid off, but we still have a mortgage. This must be paid off. The exception I’ll make to this rule is a rental property that generates more money than its mortgage.
  • 4% rule: Now, how much money do I need to guarantee an income of $30,000/year? The 4% rule is a really good guideline and the one that I will stick to. Based on the 4% rule, I need about $800,000 to retire with no debt. However, I’d like very much to be able to help my children through college, so I’m going to bump the number up to $1,000,000. $1,000,000 is the magic number.

From here to $1,000,000
Here is my current financial status as of 1/1/2013:

  • Money in the stock market: $573,777
  • Money in and (microlending): $5,760
  • Cash: $6,506

So, I currently have $586,043 and need to get to at least $1,000,000 and I’m giving myself 1500 days, or a little over 4 years. I’m going to assume a return of 10%. I’ll also be contributing $2,000/month towards my investments.

I fired up this little investment calendar and ran my numbers. Here is what I came up with:

Screen Shot 2013-01-01 at 2.21.57 PM


So, not quite $1,000,000, but close. I expect to be able to increase the amount I put in per month over time, so that will make up for the slight shortfall.

Possible challenges

  • Getting canned: Should I lose my job, I may have to use my savings to live on. I am a contractor and my current contract runs through the end of 2013.
  • Stock market taking a dump: If the US is attacked again or we have another economic meltdown, my portfolio will sink.

Possible upsides

  • Real estate: I’ll be jumping into the rental market soon and possibly even flipping more properties. From crunching the numbers, I feel that I can purchase rentals that will generate me significant income from the start. More on this later.
  • Stock market: The past four years have been pretty miserable. I do believe the next four will be better.
  • Side jobs: As a computer programmer, I often am able to get side jobs. Some come from friends, some come from and some are jobs I create, such as writing smart phone apps. More on this in a different blog.

Where do we go from here?
Here is what I want to do with this blog:

  • I’ll break down my financial situation frequently. At the beginning of each quarter, I’ll tell you how I’m doing here. You’ll know if I’m making my goals or if I’m full of hot air.
  • I’ll tell you more about me. I’ve done pretty well so far, but have also made some stupid mistakes. I’ll be writing about both. You’ll know how I got to where I am now and also how I plan to get to retirement in 1500 days.
  • I’ll detail my investments. I have too much money in the stock market now, but will be branching out into rental properties shortly and detailing it all.
  • I’ll tell you about Lending Club and Prosper. I’ve become an online lender and have been doing pretty well at it. I really like both of these sites as income generators.
  • I’ll get on my soapbox frequently about rejecting consumerism. I see ridiculous things people do to waste money all the time. Learn from their stupidity. There is a better way.
  • I’ll tell you how to save money. From doing projects around the home yourself to smarter shopping, there are a lot of things that we can all do to help make our piggy bank a little happier every month.
  • I’ll give you examples of what not to do. Most of the people I know make bad decisions about money. I will give real-life examples of this, and tell you how I think they should be changed.
  • I’ll give you examples of what works. I have had some good role models, too and I’ll be writing about their lessons.

So, I hope you learn something that makes your life better in some way. However, I also want to learn from you. Please contact me with any thoughts, your story, suggestions, comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy saving!

Big Sur

Big Sur, California

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115 Responses to The Awakening

  1. Ottawa says:

    Hey, just reading through your site now. I like the layout and the goal! Would just like to point out that the Ramsey calculator doesn’t allow for savings in current year. Therefore, on your table you have no savings and no interest for 2013! I think you can easily retire by your goal. Also, do you not count housing in your savings goal…since can liquidate that to add to your stash…or downsize?

    • 1500 says:


      Thanks for the nice comments and the information about the Ramsey calculator.

      Housing is a bit of a question mark for us right now. We’ll be moving soon to a smaller, less expensive home this year (more on that in a future post). In any case, my goal assumes that I need to have either my home paid off at retirement time or enough extra to cover the cost of the principal. Normally, I don’t like debt of any type. However, when I can get a 15 year mortgage for 3% and earn 10% with P2P lending, I don’t mind owing money.

  2. Savvy Scot says:

    Take the red pill and follow me :D!! Love it

  3. MrAlexMoore says:

    I love the vision! I’d say I’m a few years behind you, but on the same track. My question is how realistic do you think the 10% return estimate is? My 10 year plan is based on a much lower RoR, so I’d be interested to know why you are starting with 10%.

    Not that I would mind 10%, but just seems a bit optimistic IMO.

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Alex-

      10% is about the average stock market return. Of course, the market is subject to lots of fluctuation, but I think the next 4 years will be pretty good as the world economies continue to rebound.

      A war or major terrorist attack would spoil my little 10% party, but I’m an optimist, so here’s hoping…

      Best of luck with your goals and thanks for reading!

  4. Kowser says:

    You and MMM both live in Colorado. Is there something about that state that screams Financial Independence? I have read all of MMM’s blog from start to finish, so it’s nice to see this way of thinking becoming more prevalent. I am using LendingClub as a major part of my portfolio, because I am *only* 33 and ok with taking higher risks to achieve higher returns. I also have so little to work with right now thanks to being severely underemployed, that I need to push what I do have. Anyhow, I have no doubt you can make it as long as you keep smart about your portfolio and your lifestyle. Thanks for reaffirming this kind of lifestyle!


    • 1500 says:


      Yeah, MMM lives about an hour north of me. The Brave New Life guy lives just south of me. Funny thing is that all of us are (were) computer people too. Colorado is a good place to be. Nice outdoor lifestyle and the property taxes are very low.

      Sorry to hear about the underemployment. I liked MMM’s post on education. Would a career in computers be feasible? There are a ridiculous amount of jobs.

      I’d like to hear about how you’re doing with Lending Club. Keep me posted and thanks for reading! Also, thanks for the encouragement!

      • Kowser says:

        I definitely have the mind for computer programming as I wrote an entire automated Excel analysis spreadsheet to help me pick LC loans. So I appreciate the encouragement in that direction. It is what I WISH I had done if I could go back 10+ years ago… if I was gonna be teased for being computer nerdy, I might as well have profited from it! 🙂 Right now I’m a little burned out with just trying to survive and wanting what education I do have to pay dividends – You’d think a BA in Int’l Bus & a 2nd in Accounting would do the trick.

        As for my LC. I am currently hovering around 18% NAR and a real ROI of 16% taking into account weighted average capital investment based on the day LC says it is in the account. So overall, definitely kicking butt. I’ve been doing LC for almost a year. I have lately almost moved entirely away from lending and more into the Folio side of it.

  5. 1500 says:

    Hi Perry-

    Thanks for the comments and thank you so much for including me on your blogroll (keep an eye out for my Saturday post)!

    I’m going to spend some time reading through your posts, but one quick comment. I LOVE the Alfa 8C. That car is a work of art. I’ve also always wanted to drive a Caterham as well. Those things are supposed to handle like they’re on rails. As you may have guessed, I’m a car nut too. Like you, I like the idea of retiring better than the idea of a luxury car though.

    Thanks again and best of luck with your goals!

    • 1500 says:

      Yep-that 8C has got to be the best looking car made this century by some way.

      I have a little, yellow model of one that sits on my desk. I gaze at it a couple times a day and have naughty thoughts.

      hopefully it will be running soon so perhaps you can find an excuse to hit the UK and we’ll take her out for a spin

      Ha, I think this is enough of an excuse to hit the UK. Been to other parts of Europe, but your corner of the world is still on my “to do” list.

      I get my motoring thrills from motorcycles. Very fun and a fraction of the cost of a car. I’m in between bikes at the moment, but will have another at some point…

  6. 1500 says:

    Yeah, last year I did awesome too! Of course, now that I have this blog and am posting everything publicly, I’m not doing so hot.

  7. At the age of 43, you won’t have any other options but buy your own health insurance. Does your budget of $30k include this cost?

    • 1500 says:

      Yep, it includes insurance, most likely a catastrophic plan. It also includes having no debt. Primary home must be paid off.

      • Steve Adams says:

        Interesting if the math on insurance has changed. Our “high deductible” has changed and skyrocketed in cost since real high deductibles aren’t allowed anymore.

  8. Mr. Bonner says:

    Good luck reaching the goal. I look forward to reading about your progress and how you choose your investments in this type of market. All the best!

  9. Renee S says:

    “Those people are still asleep and haven’t yet come to appreciate what truly matters.”

    I stopped at this sentence to tell you that this is the best way to put it! I have so many friends who just don’t *see* it, yet. I’ve added you to my blog list and I am lokoing forward to reading more!
    Renee S recently posted…What sense could you live without?My Profile

  10. Ree Klein says:

    I’m new to your site and really like what you’re doing from layout, full disclosure, content, etc. I had two nagging thoughts as I read about your goal to retire by 43 on $1m. The first one was about how you would handle health insurance for you and your family. That was answered in a comment above although I’m amazed your family of four can live on $30k/yr. How can that cover hard expenses like insurance, income taxes, etc. It leaves so little room for problems or, say, replacing a roof or HVAC system or even a car.

    My other worry is that if you withdraw 4%/year over your lifetime, you will likely hit some periods where you are not earning more than 4% so you will be eroding your assets. Maybe it will all work out fine, but I’m too much of a worry wart. I’d like you to have more saved since you’ll be having to live off it for so long.

    Great blog and I’ll keep following you.

    • 1500 says:

      30K/year comes out to $2500/month and I’m unsure that I could find a way to spend that much. Part of it is living in Colorado with cheap taxes. My property taxes are $100/month. Home and auto insurance is another $100/month. If health insurance costs $500, that leaves me with $1800 to cover the rest.

      I’ll also have solid income generation through peer lending and rental homes. I expect those to both generate at least 2K/month after expenses and any mortgages. So, the really awesome thing is that I’ll be able to generate all income that I need to live without touching my stock holdings.

  11. Diana says:

    I’ve noticed your comments on MMM’s site and I loved the graphic and idea of 1500 days to freedom – so glad I checked out your blog. Hubby & I are in Central TX, where property taxes are MUCH higher, but no state income tax. Once we pay off our mortgage, we will be spending at at $27K/year rate, and we do live nicely on that amount, including such luxuries as a cleaning lady & lawncare every other week. Oh, and cable, we do have that and use it quite a bit for entertainment, so somewhat justified expenses. For now…

    Rentals are an awesome way to replace your income, and one we are diligently working on. Consistency is the hard part, and that’s our focus now – streamlining what we have, and getting everything to perform on a consistent basis. We are on a similar timeline as you – 5 years or less, hopefully much less! We are in a similar age bracket as well, hoping to retire at 41 or 42, although doing it on or before 40 would be awesome.

    Once we get to our goal of retirement, we are thinking about doing the house flipping thing on the side. The hard part for us both right now is continuing to work. We are so close, yet so far away, and it makes going to work that much harder.

    Love your blog and the layout, I’ll be checking it out regularly! 🙂

    • 1500 says:

      You’re doing great and it warms my heart to read about kindred spirits. Please do keep in touch. I’d love to hear how you progress.

      I love flipping houses. They key is to know your market and do stuff yourself (a lot of fun once you learn). I LOVE to look at a dump and imagine new floors, pretty cabinets and glass tile backsplashes in my mind’s eye.

  12. Brad says:

    Great post – I really enjoyed it! I’ve seen your numerous comments over at MMM and I finally clicked through to the site and I’m glad I did. I just love to see how many people are realizing that you really can gain financial independence at a fairly young age.

    The part that I find so breathtaking about this concept is that you really don’t have to give anything up or life this horribly frugal life. I just look at it as ‘living a middle class life…only smarter.’

    I’ll certainly keep visiting your site since there’s so much great new content; after I get my new site up and running a little more, I fully intend to put a little feature together on similar sites I follow. If you don’t have an objection, I’d like to feature your site.

    I’m trying a slightly different approach where I hopefully can bring this concept to as much of the city of Richmond, VA as I possibly can. I plan to sit down with people and hopefully word-of-mouth, along with my network of friends and colleagues, can take it places. We’ll see how it goes….
    Brad recently posted…An Introduction to RichmondSavers.comMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      The part that I find so breathtaking about this concept is that you really don’t have to give anything up or life this horribly frugal life. I just look at it as ‘living a middle class life…only smarter.’

      Yes, exactly! Drive a slightly used Honda instead of a new Audi, eat at home and invest your savings. That is really all there is too it!

      Thanks for the shout out. Do keep me updated on your site as well.

      I’m trying a slightly different approach where I hopefully can bring this concept to as much of the city of Richmond, VA as I possibly can. I plan to sit down with people and hopefully word-of-mouth, along with my network of friends and colleagues, can take it places.

      It’s pretty neat to connect with like minded people. Actually, that is my favorite part of being a blogger.

      Richmond is a pretty neat place as well. We passed though there when visiting some Thomas Jefferson sites.

  13. Demaish says:

    I just bumped into your blog and I love it. I am swallowing the red pill. I have a question though. How do you handle finances with your wife? Is it combined, separate or you are the only one who brings in income. Is this goal combined or just your own side of finances.
    Demaish recently posted…How I got inspired to start budgeting every centMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      I work, wife stays homw with the kids at the moment. Goal is combined and I handle all the finances. The wife does not like numbers!

  14. No Waste says:

    Best of luck, I think I’m about 4,000 days away, but I’ll be around your target age at that time.

    I also am a father to two young children and my wife stays home with them.

    I sometimes think how easy financial independence would have been without having children but simultaneously think about how much less rich I would feel as a result.
    No Waste recently posted…Why I’m A Boglehead (Part II)My Profile

  15. Nic says:

    This site is terrific, and I’m so glad to be following along.

    I know you’re not a financial adviser, per say, but I’d trust your advice over many advisers who are looking to make their own money.

    Just today I signed up for an account on prosper, and plan to enter into that shortly.

    Here’s the quick run down of my situation: I’m 28. I make about 3320/month, before taxes (but no state income tax in South Dakota, hooray!) I currently am putting 15% of my check into my 401(k) plan. It is sitting at $16,000. I also put 100% of my quarterly bonus (profit sharing) into 401(k) to avoid heavy bonus taxes. I am putting $200 month into an employee investment certificate plan that returns 4% interest. I have about $2,000 in that account (I can withdraw this at any time). I currently have about $6,000 in my checking account.

    My biggest regret is starting late. I didn’t set up my 401(k) until 2 years ago. I’m playing catch up, but so desperately want to get to a point where I make my money work for me as an additional revenue stream.

    So… here’s my question after all that, if you’d allow me to pick at your brain… I am currently uncomfortable with buying and flipping property. It’s just not a forte of mine, and I’d be in over my head if I decided to do so. Based on my current income, what would you suggest I do? Should I reign back the 401(k) contributions and contribute some of that money elsewhere? Should I invest the 4% investment certificate savings elsewhere?

    Thanks for the motivational blog, twitter account, and everything you do. It’s fun to follow here and pick up these tips.

    • Nic says:

      I forgot to add that I currently have no debt, so that’s the positive thing!

      • 1500 says:

        Hi Nic-

        Flipping property isn’t to be taken lightly. There are a ton of variables involved and one must approach it with great caution. I’m actually going to be writing about our experiences in a couple weeks, but the thing we did that made us different was live in the property while we worked on it. The property that we were flipping was our primary residence. So, we greatly reduced risk. If the economy tanked, we could just continue to live there. We would stay for 2 years to avoid capital gains and then sell. Obviously, this strategy isn’t for everyone and I don’t recommend flipping homes unless you’re completely comfortable with it.

        OK, so based on your age and situation, here are my thoughts:
        Regarding your 401(k), make sure that you’re putitng enough in to get your company’s full match. If not, you’re just leaving free money on the table.

        Since you are young, choose aggressive funds (no bond funds for example). The conventional wisdom is to be aggressive when you’re young and become more conservative as you get closer to retirement.

        You employee certificate plan sounds like a good place to keep money for an emergency fund. 4% is a great rate if it’s stable. However, I probably would concentrate on the 401(k) first. Again, I say that because you’re young and historical stock market returns are greater than 4%.

        Be careful with Prosper too. I played around with it for a year before I started putting a lot of money into it. Even now, I only have $3000 in my account. Peer lending has really become popular in the past 6 months as well. This is a bad thing because the best loans are snapped up in seconds my institutional investors. The best site to learn about peer lending is I highly suggest you spend a good deal of time reading Peter’s posts.

        To summarize, if I were you, I’d really concentrate on the 401(k). Don’t be scared when the stock market takes a tumble. Everything is cyclical and it will happen over and over. However, as long as the historical trend is up, up, up, you’ll do well in the long term. Now that I think about it, the most valuable thing for you to read may be this series on stocks: In my opinion, this is some of the greatest advice one can read on the subject.
        You mention starting late, but I look at your situation and think that you’re doing great. You’re only 28. There is no shortage of people that are twice your age that still have haven’t figured out what you already have.

        Also, South Dakota is a great place! We have had more than one vacation to the Black Hills and Custer State Park.

        Finally, thanks for your kind comments about my little blog! Its fun to write and even more fun if I can actually help someone!

  16. Amit says:

    I chanced upon this blog yesterday, and it is absolutely terrific. It is inspiring to know that there are others who share the same goals in life as I do.
    I am 34 and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and things are a bit more expensive here, despite higher income levels (Homes, Property Taxes, State Income Taxes… you get the drift). My goal is to be financially independent by 40, but its easier said than done, especially with a huge mortgage. I started a bit late (opened 401K at 31), but now I am trying to max out every retirement option that I can.
    I am an avid reader of all things financial, and the 4% rule opened my eyes. I had to re-do a lot of calculations, but hopefully I will be on the right track now.
    I was wondering what your views are on Health Insurance. The one thing that will keep me in a full time position is the excellent Health Insurance benefits that my company provides. If I were to pay this out of pocket, it would have a significant impact on my yearly expenditure.
    Thank you for the excellent blog and I will follow your progress….

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Amit-

      Thank you for your kind comments!

      I’ve been to San Francisco many times and hear what you’re saying. It’s very beautiful and very expensive. There is no way that I could retire as early as I plan to if I lived there.

      Health insurance is something I pay a lot of attention too and Obamacare actually helps early retirees out. The subsidies are solely based on income. So, even if you have $3,000,000 in the bank, if you don’t have a job, you’ll get pretty cheap insurance. Financial Samurai did a really great write up here:

      However, I firmly believe that the best way to go is to keep yourself in the best shape possible. Eat right (vegetables!) and exercise. I know that I can’t avoid all health issues, but I can greatly reduce them by keeping myself in the best shape possible.

  17. Steve says:

    On a similar journey and The Matrix comment made me laugh because that’s exactly how I feel like!

    I think I’ve been here before when I first started blogging but just “re-discovered” it!

    This time I’ll be sticking around for good, so hope you enjoy have even more commenters 😀
    Steve recently posted…Mortgage or InvestMy Profile

  18. Steven says:

    Would you consider retirement if you had rental properties that came to your 30K a year? I saw mention of real estate, but a huge portion was stock investments.

    • 1500 says:

      Wow, you have a window into my mind. The answer is absolutely. I can’t stand it that most money is in stocks. We have made offers on a couple homes, but were outbid.

  19. Steven says:

    I recently started the same quest as many out there, thinking I was different(Get Rich Slowly was my catalyst to get where I am today with paying off credit cards, cars, and some Student Loans). About 6 months ago we started tracking towards the same Financial Independence/Retire Early goal. Our estimation is this will take 7 years total for us. We own 2 homes both with mortgages and both rental income producing. While we will be putting a small amount of investments along the way, we will be relying heavily on the rental income after the 7 years. I will be 38 at this time, our plan is to use this money until “retirement” from our 401K and Roth IRA kick in as a Retirement Bonus.

    I saw the mention of maxing out your 401K, I’m assuming the 1mm is in non-retirement vehicles, is this correct? If not can you elaborate and provide a little detail on how that will work from age 43 to 65? Thanks for Replying, your blog is great so far and I’m only like 2 or 3 posts in!
    Steven recently posted…What Do You Want to Hear? Dumb DecisionsMy Profile

  20. Greg Seymour says:

    Oddly, you mention retiring to Costa Rica in this article, which is exactly what I did this year in June – at age 41, no less. We are in the mountains and not the beach, but we are here and enjoying it very much. I thought there would be a void from my working life and was concerned with both boredom and, in all honesty, spending much more time with my wife. All of these fears are non existent in reality. We are very busy, meeting new people all the time and enjoying life…finally. Best of luck to you on hitting your goal.
    Greg Seymour recently posted…My Favorite Photos from 2013 – The MammalsMy Profile

  21. Gretchen says:

    I love my HP Chromebook! I got mine for about $415 w/ Taxes & product replacement plan.

  22. So…I’m finally commenting after lurking here for an embarrassingly long amount of time. I love the concept; you’ve given yourself a ‘deadline’ of sorts, which I’m sure helps with motivation (not that YOU need any motivation, but you know what I mean!)
    We’re laser-focused for early retirement as well…shooting for 4th of July, 2021. Last I checked, we had 1,895 working days left.
    You’ve got a great thing going here…looking forward to more, my friend.
    Laura aka Mrs Nickels recently posted…5 of the Biggest Financial “Leaks”…Do You Have One?My Profile

  23. So I’m reading this post while eating greek yogurt (notice how yuppies like me have to insert the GREEK part? What can’t we just say yogurt?? DAMMIT!!) subconsciously nodding and high-fiving my monitor after every sentence.

    Nice to see someone who has similar motivations, and is starting this journey in their late 30s.

    Good luck and thanks for writing!!
    Chattanooga Cheapster recently posted…Cheapster Challenge – Hypermiling UpdateMy Profile

  24. DivHut says:

    Wow. That is some tall order. You seem laser focused though and I am sue you will get to your goal or very close to it. I think expecting 10% returns though is pretty high unless you become ultra aggressive with your investments. In any case, go for it. This is cool.

  25. It’s been a while since I’ve read your blog, and glad I came back today. I’m in a bit of a funk, despite having saved $250k+ at 30, and seeing your tremendous growth makes me feel like financial freedom may indeed be possible one day. I need to learn a lot more from you!

    • 1500 says:

      250K at 30 is pretty incredible. Both stock portfolios and humans have their short terms ups and downs. As long as the long term trajectory is up, you’re doing the right thing.

  26. Rand says:

    Quick question… You say you were maxing out your 401k (which is awesome), but that would be $17,500 per year. Ok, so you want to put 20k in.. Again that’s awesome. But other than limiting expenses, how is that different than what you were doing with the assumption you aren’t going to touch that 401k? It’s only another $2500 a year. Are you talking about an additional 20k a year or just finding another $2500 a year?

    • 1500 says:

      My goal is to put a total of $24,000/year into savings accounts. The 401k always gets my money first due to its tax advantages. After that, it goes mostly into peer lending.

      We’ve been working on a house recently and that has consumed most money and will probably continue for another 6 months. After that, we’ll be in full-on savings mode again.

  27. Elizabeth @ Single Mom Debt says:

    Nice plan! Gotta love the questions kids come up with. My daughter has been asking if how can a one armed person drive, something about tracheotomies due to smoking, and will 2 magnets break if you force pushing them together on their opposites. LOL.

  28. Thom says:

    I stumbled onto your website today (linked in from Johnny Moneyseed and FI websites). I just wanted to say, great site and congrats on your successes. It’s great to find and read like minded folks who are finding their success too. I’m a little further down the age path (let’s just say I’m in my later 40’s). I am not a fellow blogger (I can’t stand writing but love reading!), so it’s unusual for me to respond, but I felt compelled after reading your blog site today. It’s great to see someone at your age with the insights you’ve gained and you deserve some applause for your success. I wanted to share my successes, so you can know it is possible!

    A little background on me… I also started out in the Computer industry. Must be something in the water! I have a B.S. In Computer Science. Along the way, I moved into the pharmaceutical industry, and crossed over to a career in logistics operations about 16 yrs ago. After 16yrs and a scary company acquisition, that I survived…I decided, I wanted out of the corporate job before it decided I needed to go! More about that in a moment….

    My wife and I got married at 20 yrs old (yes a junior in college, we were young and dumb!) We built our first house while in college, and building that first house was one of the best educations I ever received! I learned all about mortgages, expenses, etc. at an early age. I’ve always been a saver, and we started early with 401k’s in our mid 20’s, when we landed our first corporate jobs. We’ve maxed 401k’s for +20 yrs, and parlayed our first house into a fourth and final “retirement” home about 6 yrs ago. We were lucky and made money on all three previous homes and paid off our current dream home when we built it around 6 yrs ago. It was through these purchases/sales of our houses that I fell in love with RE. We recognized we were fortunate and continued making “fake” mortgage payments into our savings accounts after the last house was paid off. We raised two wonderful girls and put them both through college (thank goodness we started college funds when they were born!) Actually, the youngest will graduate next Spring! Yay! In 2009, I finally took the chance on my life long desire to try land lording. I’d read many books and blogs on rental real estate for years, and decided to jump in in a fairly big way. After all, the easiest money I ever made was on our three previous homes. Thanks to a life time of saving well, we were able to buy a nice multi-unit rental property right out of the gate. I was hooked! And just over five years later, we now own 43 rental units (not all free and clear yet, but snow-balling all the cash flow to knock the last one out in the next 3-4 years). I’m still at my corporate job, but now only work 4 days a week. Now financially free to quit anytime, we both decided to stay on at the corporate jobs, but on our terms (my wife also works 4 days a week). We found the corporate world is a lot more tolerable when you have THE CHOICE, as we like to call it!!! So you may find, that you don’t mind working so much once you begin reaching your objectives. Also don’t be afraid of changing your objectives…you may find, there are better objectives the more successful you become and you can then help others!…and you already are!

    So my “plan” is simple, we live very comfortably (spending is comfortably ~$4k per month, as you can see, we are definitely not in the extreme frugal mindset, and in Virginia taxes and insurance are very reasonable). We live very comfortably and don’t scrimp. We travel, we eat out, we do drive our cars until they become less trust worthy. We save at least ~20% of our corp jobs into 401k’s and other accounts. We pour another ~$3k per month into our REI’s to pay them off rapidly. And we also roll all RE income back into the REI mortgages to knock them out ASAP. I originally targeted $5k-6k per month in retirement. But I’m very conservative, and decided why rely on one retirement source, when I can have several. I am now targeting $10k/mo in rental income, and that is VERY conservative. So we plan to retire at 50 yrs old, and live on that source, while hopefully fulfilling another life long dream of being able to start another small business just for fun (yet to be determined, but I have several ideas in mind). Will likely have something to do with one of several hobbies! By 59.5 yrs old, we should easily have ($1.5M in 401ks…assuming a very conservative 4-5% return…I’m into Index funds, so historically should do somewhat better, but again, I’m very conservative in planning, and want to account for inflation). I don’t count on SS, but if it’s there when the time comes, it’s gravy… So if all goes well, $10k/mo in REI, $4-5k/mo in investments, and possibly SS way down the road with no debt.

    So that’s my story, I’ve never felt compelled to share it before, but your success at an early age, made me want to respond and possibly help keep your motivation up. Good luck! And keep up the great work! You will get there…and you may find, that the job gets a lot easier and you may be able to stand it a little longer than you thought! ;). Cheers!

    • 1500 says:

      Wow, thanks for the great comment. You’re story is inspiring, especially the part about 43 rental properties! I’m still trying for my first one.

      I like what you have to say about THE CHOICE too. This is something I’ve thought about a lot actually. I’ll bet it’s a lot easier to work when you want to, not because you have to. I will continue to sling 1s and 0s, but probably on projects that I want to work on or short term contracts.

    • Marisa says: inspiring.
      We are last days of our first flip house(should close the beginning of next week) and I want to get into land-lording. Do you mind sharing the best web sites for investing for rentals?

  29. Steve Adcock says:

    I love reading stories like these. I had a very similar transition myself from a lifestyle of consumption to one that prioritized saving. Between my wife and I, we’re NOW saving over 50% of our combined income (which comes out to around $5000/month straight into savings) and I plan to retire within 7 years.

    Good luck to you – I know you’ll make it because you definitely sound motivated and excited to quit the rat race and enjoy true happiness for the rest of your life.
    Steve Adcock recently posted…5 steps to better gas mileage, guaranteedMy Profile

  30. BeSmartRich says:

    Same as you. I was awoken by so many great personal finance bloggers such as Dividend Mantra, My own adviser, Million Dollar Journey etc… I am glad and feel very lucky that I ran into those blogs when I was still pretty young.


    BeSmartRich recently posted…Mutual Funds SuckMy Profile

  31. Jack Reidy says:


    I just stumbled across your blog and wanted to let you know that I am pursing something similar but I am a little older than you and have a little higher goal. My goal is $2 million and retire by 50 which is in 2 years.

    If you like P2P lending you should also look at P2p Real Estate Lending. I have been doing P2P lending for 6 years and P2P Real estate for two years and the returns are very similar. If you are interested in learning more about it you can reach out to me or Google the topic.

    Good Luck


    Kind Regards

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Jack-

      I’m registered with Realty Mogul. Are you referring to this or something similar? Yeah, I’d love to learn more.

      Best of luck achieving your $2,000,000 goal! That will be a nice chunk of change at 50.

      • Jack says:

        Yes…Realty Mogul was one of the first in this space. I have researched over 50 of them and think the following are in the top five in no particular order:
        Realty Mogul
        Realty Shares
        Patch of Land

        Some sites only tackle debt postions while others prefer equity but the bottom line this is another avenue to travel in the P2P marketplace lending genre.

        Good Luck!


        • 1500 says:

          Thanks for replying. I’ll check these other ones out shortly.

          I signed up for RM, but haven’t funded a deal yet because the minimums are quite high. I look forward to getting involved in real estate in the near future though.

          • Jack says:


            Yes…the minimums are higher at RM. The other sites start at $5k and from time to time Realty Shares has offerings as low as $1000.

  32. Brian says:

    Just took the red pill recently, I’m on my way! Our expenses are bigger than yours for now, we’re trying to reduce them, but it seems my target is closer to $1’500’000. 1500 days sounds tough, but I still want to retire before I’m 40 (I’m 33 right now). So, I have roughly 2500 days I guess.
    Brian recently posted…Tips for Moving: the car2go trunk can fit a 42” TVMy Profile

  33. Taylor says:

    Hi! I’m new to your blog but really interested in learning more about saving and getting rid of debt. I just graduated with my Master’s dergee, so lots of debt, and I just got a job in my field, counseling. I am far from ready to retire but I know that it is never too early to start planning and saving. I’m looking forward to learning and beginning my journey! Thanks for the info and inspiration! ~*taylor

    • 1500 says:

      I graduated with $60,000 in college debt and it was not fun. Work your butt off to get it paid of ASAP. At the same time though, take advantage of any employer matches for retirement funds. By that, I meant that I’d contribute to retirement accounts even if you still have debt. At least contribute enough so you get the full match.

      Best of luck in your journey! The fact that you’re thinking about it so early means that you’re going to be absolutely killing it in a decade or two!

  34. OCDollar says:

    Hi There! New to your blog as well. I love your story. I love your goals. Your story resonates with me. As a mother of 2 girls I’m over the materialistic possessions. We’ve purged a ton since Jan 1 this year and am still on our purging journey. We have been yo-yo on our finances these past 12 years since graduating from college, getting married and having 2 beautiful kids. We’ve made a ton of mistakes. But we took a hard look around this year at our surroundings. We laid out WHAT it was that was important to us. And you’re right, none of that revolved around possessions, only time. So we’re determined to kill the debt so we can have options. Work because you want to, not because you have to. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • 1500 says:

      Hi OC Dollar!

      Thanks so much for the kind comments! Time is EVERYTHING.

      At the Berkshire meeting a couple years ago, a young guy asked Buffett a question. I don’t remember what the question was, but one of Buffett’s remarks was that he’d trade all of his wealth to the be the age of the questioner again. That is very powerful thought. I’d bet that any billionaire in the world would give it all away to be a couple decades younger.

      Best of luck in your journey!

  35. whitehatseo1 says:

    I’m registered with Realty Mogul. Are you referring to this or something similar? Yeah, I’d love to learn more.

    Best of luck achieving your $2,000,000 goal! That will be a nice chunk of change at 50.

  36. whitehatseo1 says:

    Look forward to following you in the blogosphere!

  37. EternlaYield says:

    Hello out there!
    Very nice story, I like the way of the presented thinking and acting in the post. Truthfully hoping, your dream come true.

  38. Uncle Cheese-it says:

    Hi there,
    I love this. My wife and I have just started a very similar plan. Similar background, similar goal (I give myself 5 years, I’m 35) . I like the fact that you’re monitoring the progress so closely. I’ll be reading the updates, but it seems like you’re doing great, and I’ll apply some of your suggestions. Awesome on job Google stock!

    • 1500 says:

      Thanks and I’m happy to hear that you’ll be doing something similar. I feel like the weight of the world is slowly lifting. Best of luck!

  39. I just found you from a comment by Eric at Retire29. How could I have missed you after all those years of us both reading similar sites?

    It appears we have something in common – I lived for years south of you off of I-25. I am guessing there is something in the Colorado water that breeds early retirement sites. It has been a while since I lived there, however I do travel there often visiting family.

    I look forward reading your articles.
    Bryan @ Just One More Year recently posted…Discovering new adventures in Williams ArizonaMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Hey Bryan! Yeah, there are a lot of aspirational FI folks in the Rocky Mountains state. Perhaps it has something to do with looking out the window of the office and seeing the mountains.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  40. Paula R. says:

    Hi there!
    Same here! I’ve read pretty much all the same blogs as you and I’ve never heard of yours until now. About to devour all your posts from today on and learn about your tips, financial advise, savings, retirement and so forth!
    Good luck on your 2017 goal to retirement!

  41. ali says:

    Thanks and I’m happy to hear that you’ll be doing something similar. I feel like the weight of the world is slowly lifting. Best of luck!

  42. sad says:

    Same here! I’ve read pretty much all the same blogs as you and I’ve never heard of yours until now. About to devour all your posts from today on and learn about your tips, financial advise, savings, retirement and so forth!
    Good luck on your 2017 goal to retirement! biking vietnam

  43. asad says:

    Same here! I’ve read pretty much all the same blogs as you and I’ve never heard of yours until now. About to devour all your posts from today on and learn about your tips, financial advise, savings, retirement and so forth!
    Good luck on your 2017 goal to retirement! reseller hosting

  44. 5214 says:

    I love this. My wife and I have just started a very similar plan. Similar background, similar goal (I give myself 5 years, I’m 35) . I like the fact that you’re monitoring the progress so closely. I’ll be reading the updates, but it seems like you’re doing great, and I’ll apply some of your suggestions. Awesome on job Google stock!

  45. 5214 says:

    I’ve never heard of yours until now. About to devour all your posts from today on and learn about your tips, financial advise, savings, retirement and so forth!
    Good luck on your 2017 goal to retirement!
    5214 recently posted…Cotto vs Canelo Live Stream on HBO PPVMy Profile

  46. 654123 says:

    Thanks and I’m happy to hear that you’ll be doing something similar. I feel like the weight of the world is slowly lifting. Best of luck!

  47. 6541 says:

    I’d like to hear about how you’re doing with Lending Club. Keep me posted and thanks for reading! Also, thanks for the encouragement!
    6541 recently posted…Self-balancing MiP robot is ready to rollMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      I haven’t put any new money into it for 2 years because we’re trying to save up cash for a real estate deal. I just looked at my account and my return is 8.05%. Keep in mind that I was conservative when I first started and bought some A and B notes. I think that I could have done better with lower grade notes.

  48. Robert says:

    “If the US is attacked again or we have another economic meltdown, my portfolio will sink.”

    I hear ya. One thing I’ve learned after watching my coworkers’ investments get obliterated in 2000 and 2008: Buy low and SELL HIGH. None of my co-workers ever sold. In other words, even when it was clear that a bull market had run its course, they never moved their stock investments to safer ground; they thought it would “go up forever.” They mocked me for buying gold at sub $300 per ounce when the NASDAQ was overbought. I believe it’s simple greed that keeps people from selling “at the top.”

    • 1500 says:

      “even when it was clear that a bull market had run its course”

      This is very difficult to call too though. I remember people saying in 2012 that they were going to stay in cash because the markets were high.

      I don’t usually sell, but I will buy on BIG drops. By big, I mean 2 year lows or greater.

  49. I’ve seen your posts here and comments around other FIRE blogs and have to say I really dig your writing style. Punchy and direct, with some wry humor mixed in. You’re like a well made Gin & Tonic. Which is to say, I very much look forward to reading more of your work, and hope you will continue writing long after you’ve crushed your goal by hundreds of thousands. And by the look of it, you’re almost nearly there. Cheers!
    Mortimer @ Mortimer’s Money Machines recently posted…My $7.82, Million-Volume Collection of Books, Movies, and MusicMy Profile

  50. Just come to read this as you linked to it from your latest post. I love reading a blogs first ever post. Your one is awesome! So much packed into one post and a great summary. I remember my first post and pretty it was a lot of nonsense in the main 🙂
    theFIREstarter recently posted…what’s luck got to do with it?My Profile

  51. We took the red pill a year ago and wouldn’t change a thing. It sounds like we have quite a longer way to go than you; still in debt and no money in stocks other than IRA/401k. What was your investment strategy before this frugal awakening?

  52. Tiago Macario says:


    I am following you for 3 months and want to say: congratulations for your blog!

    It’s really nice to meet people that are changing their life for the better.

    Personally, my mind has changed completely when I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, when I was 19 years old.

    Today (26 years old), I’m doing very well with my finances and plan to retire before 40.

    So far, I believe that I’ve made intelligent choices about how I invest (stock market & bonds) and spend my money. Unfortunately, there are a lot of injustices (taxes as well) in my country , what reduces the chances to retire better.

    Still haven’t read your last posts (I’m trying to read the blog in a chronological way), but I liked very much what I saw till here.

    Greetings from Brazil!

  53. FinaTrak says:

    Nice blog and discussion. Will refer to others and keep following.

  54. Lawrence says:

    Hi. I found your story to be compelling. I have one question though, in your Contribution/Interest/Balance table, what exactly is generating your Interest income?

    • 1500 says:

      Hmmm, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. In my table, I don’t break out interest income. In this low rate environment, it is too small to make even the tiniest dent!

  55. Eli says:

    Mr. 1500,

    Just found your blog and loving it! I am 51 and just realized about a year ago a maxed out 401k isn’t going to help me retire early. Sitting on $450K in IRA, about $250K in 401k and $70k in cash. I just downsized my 401K so I could pile up more cash. Looking to get out in about 1500 days as well!

  56. MARTIN says:

    I recently found your blog, and is of great motivation, I would like to know if you manage your investment portfolio? if you keep investing in p2p and others invest stocks, thanks for your help?

  57. Mrs. Free says:

    I think I’m about to do what I’ve been going back and forth about it…try P2P Lending. I’m thinking Lending Club! We did pay off our mortgage, but have about 100K sitting in an online savings account that we need to invest for higher returns. I will likely start smaller than that – still fighting my natural inclination toward risk aversion.

    Thank you for your detailed information! I sent a message to let you know how much you have inspired me over the past few months of reading yours and other similar blogs.

  58. Just found your blog…. Jez, its awesome!

    Loved your story. I want to retire by 33 although my story is way different than yours.

    Keep going!

  59. Vuduy Thanh says:

    Mr.1500 day
    Your Story very interesting. i found some thing from you like me and i loved that .
    But we have different way to finish our work . i invest about real estate to retire .
    i will keep follow you Mr.1500 day

  60. Mom says:

    I am so grateful for your blog. I read most of it last night and was so inspired. This morning my husband had such a challenging day that he asked me if he can go part time. With your inspiration I started a blog to deal with the stress and try to get to our goals. Thanks for blogging!

  61. Setting goals and following through on them is such a simple concept, but can be so hard to execute on. Congrats to you, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

  62. Thu Lan says:

    Your manifesto have 3 parts, I really like part 1: the awakening. Do you share more information about this section? “Make the most of your time and live it the best you can” What I do know though is that I want the freedom to choose. I think the people also want it.

  63. Denise says:

    Awesome post. Reading your memories from your childhood almost made me tear up. It is so true..the memories you have are the events and moments that brought joy and happiness to your life…not material things. Those are never remembered. Thanks for the reminder!!! I want my kids to have amazing memories like these. Cheers

  64. Jack says:

    I try to instill in our children that experiences and life’s simple pleasures are what count and material things really do not show up in your treasured memories very often. We are trying to start early in helping our children not only know what brings true happiness but also strong financial habits as well. I love reading your post and the inspiration.

  65. Sonia says:

    Love your blog! And I love Lending Club too! I rolled all my 401K money from work (82,000) and have it invested in 12-16% interest loans with people with no history of being late on payments and a credit score of 700 or more. I also am still working until the end of the year, so all interest payments are being rolled back in to generate more income. I could not be happier with the results. My interest income is over $1000.00 per month and my portfolio is growing at that rate. I plan to leave all the principle and 5% of the interest when I retire in December. I also have an annuity at the end of the year I will be rolling there as well. As far as I can tell, people borrow money in good times and bad too. I am on the right side of interest now, hooray! I have not one penny in the stock market and I sleep very well now! I am also working on starting a blog that will keep me busy and help provide some income in the future as well.
    PEOPLE, you seriously need to check out Lending Club! They have IRA’S and I moved all my money tax free!
    I will keep checking out the rest of the posts on your blog and it is so interesting so far!

  66. I just strolled across this website and I am shocked I have never seen it before. You blog and posts are stellar and amazing, to say the least. Please keep up the awesome stuff! I will totally share this with some friends.


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