Recently, I had the pleasure of being featured in a MarketWatch article. My views on the blog exploded and so did many of the readers’ heads.
“She’s 27 and retiring with $200k in assets, most of those locked away in tax-advantaged accounts? Yeah, good luck with that. She’s not going to make it a year.”
That seems to be the common refrain from the comments in both the MarketWatch article and Yahoo! Finance version. (I left out the ones that talked about my relationship with my boyfriend because those are just rude.) Even @WuTangFinancial chimed in on the article which I guess makes me a Real Blogger now!
I wanted to address some things I saw mentioned repeatedly. I might be wasting my breath, but I want to say an attempt was made.
“$200k Isn’t Enough!”
They are totally right. If I were actually leaving work to retire, I’d have far more than $200k and $15k in cash. I’d be more like Tanja at Our Next Life with tons of cash to hold me through any downturns (like the correction we’re experiencing now).
However, I’m not leaving work to hang up a hammock in which I will laze by the sea with a Mai Tai in hand and play lots of golf. I don’t even know how to play golf but I wouldn’t say no to the hammock and fruity cocktail.
I am leaving W2 work to work for myself. I will be working my butt off on any number of hustles: stained glass, this blog, my podcast, freelance writing gigs, speaking gigs.….… the list is endless. I’m limited only by my creativity, drive, and time.
“She Had Help!”
They’re also kind of right, but also incredibly wrong. The kind of help they’re referring to was monetary help from my family to get through college and life after that. I only wish that had been the case, because that’s a lot easier than what I actually did to get through college debt free.
Instead, I hustled my way through high school and ended up with a full-ride scholarship for academics to the local state school. I didn’t know that was going to happen though, so I signed up with the Air National Guard and had them on standby to pay for school if my scholarship fell through. If you’d like to learn more about that time in my life, I wrote a couple of posts with all the great details.
I had other help, though. I had some amazing bloggers to look up to who inspired me to go down the crazy path of financial independence. I literally would not be in this position without them. You can find all the bloggers I recommend here.
“Good for Her, I Guess, If She Wants to Live a Deprived Life”
I don’t think my life is missing much of anything. I live a simple and modest life compared to the average American, but I am by no means suffering or depriving myself. I eat good food at home. I occasionally go out to eat. My boyfriend and I go on fun dates. Heck, we spend money on gas to see each other! I own a house. My car runs well and is paid off in full. I travel domestically frequently, and internationally once a year. I bought a purebred cat.
I’m pretty sure most of those things are things that Jacob Lund Fisker from Early Retirement Extreme would not do. I cannot live like that. I think about the future a lot more than most 27 year olds, but I don’t forget to enjoy the now.
To me, there’s no point in early retirement if you don’t have anything to do or anyone to do things with. That sounds intensely lonely and as an incredibly social person, I’m willing to delay my path to financial freedom slightly to have a richer experience of life. I know it doesn’t sound like it to the people reading the posts on Market Watch and Yahoo Finance, but it’s true!
“She Can’t Afford ______”
It’s not that I can’t afford whatever it is they think I need, it’s that I don’t see the need to buy it. Like my car. It’s a 2005 Pontiac Vibe with 172,000 miles on it. They think I drive this old high mileage car because I can’t afford it. In reality, I could buy a nice used car in cash today.
But here’s the thing. I don’t want to. I think my money is better served being invested for the future, or being saved up to live off of, rather than being tied up in a rapidly depreciating ‘asset’. I’m not even sure I want a new car, as soon I will be moving to a beautiful city with miles of bike lanes and an excellent public transportation system. I hope to not need a car at all.
I’ve also had people accuse me of being cheap, like that’s the WORST name they could call someone. I guess to them, it would be the worst label. I’m actually kind of proud of my level of frugality (which I don’t consider to be terribly extreme). Instead of buying a car windshield cover, I covered my windshield with a $.97 PVC clear shower curtain from Walmart. It worked perfectly this last week when we got over a foot of snow and I didn’t have to pay an extra $24 for it. It’s little things like this that add up into a big difference!
Jump to This Conclusion
At the end of the day, I started this blog to showcase my journey to FIRE. I’m so glad I did, as I can look back on the last few years and see how my life and opinions have changed. For example, it’s become apparent to me with the switch to side hustles and the entrepreneurial lifestyle, that I will never retire early. In fact, I might not retire at all.
Instead, I’ll be living a financially independent life, free to do what I want and work on things that interest me. That’s a pretty radical departure from my 24 year old self that started this blog determined to save up a bunch of money and retire at 35!
If not being beholden to anyone sounds like the kind of life for you, stick around! I’d love to have company!