Ali and Joe are the inspiring couple proving that early retirement is more than possible, regardless of the size of the pay cheque. After graduating from college, the combined total of their student loans amounted to $30k. They both picked up jobs as teachers and lived on a tight budget saving up to 75% of their salaries. It paid off!
They settled their student debt and in 2008 they managed to buy their first rental property in Las Vegas. They then bought another couple of rentals in the years to follow. It wasn’t easy at first, but the properties started bringing in profit. They managed to move from -$30 net worth, to full financial independence. 14 rental properties later, their total net worth is just over $1 million.
Despite loving their careers as teachers, they decided it was time to shift their focus and devote their time to their passions. They pulled the trigger in 2015 and decided to retire, focusing on what they really love – spending time with each other and travelling the world. Since retiring, they have travelled all over the world for two years. Currently, they’re based in Seattle with their two toddlers– Annabelle and Cassian, and spend their time reading books or just enjoying time with the family. How did they get where they are now?
1. Do you think it’s job dissatisfaction that pushes people into early retirement?
We were public school teachers and we both loved our jobs. But by the time we quit, we had been doing it for almost a decade, and there were other things we wanted to do, too. We couldn't travel the world full time with a job. We couldn't be home with kids if we had a job. We very much enjoyed our jobs while we had them, but we also wanted to move on to new adventures as well. Financial independence was about the freedom to pursue what we wanted without having to worry about spending our time making money anymore.
2. It's been about 4 years now that you've retired - does retirement look just like you imagined it to be?
Pretty close. We've gotten to do a lot of fun things and are enjoying lots of time with our kids while they're young.
3. Do you think early retirement is for everyone?
No. Some people really find meaning and purpose in working in having a job they love. Why would they retire? Financial independence means you can choose the life you want. For many people, that includes meaningful work. It just means you can do it on your terms.
4. Thinking back - do you think you quit your job at the right time, or would you have left yourself a bit more time to prepare?
We pulled the trigger a year before we were planning, before we had the numbers we were aiming for, and since then, we realized we could have done it even sooner. Overall it worked out great, so we can't complain.
5. A study carried out by the IEA confirms that retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression and can make people feel lonely and purposeless. What are your thoughts about that?
I think most of those studies tend to look at older workers who are often either forced into retirement or have medical issues. There aren't many if any, studies I'm aware of young, able-bodied people who are quitting work to do something else meaningful to them.
People should retire to something, not from something. When you retire from your job because you don't like your job, and you have no plan or purpose, you're more likely to sit on the couch and end up unhappy. When you retire from your job because you have other things you want to do, I think you're much less likely to feel purposelessness or unhappiness.
We did have an adjustment period, and I think most people switching to early retirement do, but we have purposefully kept building towards a life that we want.
6. What does your typical day look like?
We have two young kids, so most days are spent at the children's museum or local public library. We also do a lot of reading and spending time with family.
7. What's the best thing about retiring early?
The freedom to choose any life you'd like, try them out, and move on to something else if it doesn't work, without ever having to wonder what if.
8. What's your plan for the future?
No idea. It changes so often, I wouldn't be surprised if we were in a bungalow in the tropics a year from now, or buying a house somewhere, or creating a business, or hiking a mountain. Right now, we're settled near family for the short term, and we'll see what's next.
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