Financial Independence Interview-Retire Before Dad
I meet Retire Before Dad at FinCon#15 this past year and even shared a beer and BBQ, which as far as things to do when you meet a fellow blogger ranks right up there with attending a personal finance conference….wait a minute that actually happened. I know many of us have insane goals of retiring in 2 years or making millions in a weekend and that’s why I really appreciate the open and honesty of RBD. He has a simple goal to retire before his Dad……In short he wants to retire by 55. I personally think sometimes the simple goals are the best. What more can I say about the man who loves investing, personal finance, and travel……….all things near and dear to my heart, I suppose I should let him do that. Without further ado or me sharing all of his story, I give to you Retire Before Dad.
Who are you and tell me about your reason for setting a goal of FI?
I’m a 40-year-old husband, Dad and investor living in the Washington D.C metro area. During the day at my ‘real’ job I’m an IT consultant. But I’ve been moonlighting as Retire Before Dad (RBD) for about two years. On the blog I write about various types of investing, personal finance and travel.
My Dad retired at the age of 56 back in the early 2000’s. He hasn’t worked a day since. He golfs twice a week, gardens, exercises and never has a lack of things to do.
During his last year of working, I was off traveling the world on a 14-month backpacking trip. The whole adventure cost me just $10,000.
By the time I returned, he was retired. I told my Dad it was my goal to retire one year earlier than he did, at age 55. At the time I was 27, broke and living with my parents. Not surprisingly, I was single too.
From there I restarted my career in IT and began building wealth with the near-term goal of settling down and starting a family. A few years later I was married. Faster forward to today, we have three kids under the age of four and life is busy.
When I retire, I’m not looking for a side gig or second career. I want to fully retire and never work again. That way, Mrs. RBD and I can pursue the holy grail of travel, which is to explore the world without the constraints of time or money. That is my primary motivation for financial independence.
While I mostly write about investing and finance, the blog is also a canvas for me to share travel stories about getting robbed at machete point, and acquiring the world’s ugliest dollar bill only to spend it on a plate of 7-11 nachos.
One self-inflicted challenge on our way to financial independence is our commitment to pay for our kids’ college education. I consider this to be the greatest risk to reaching my retirement goal because my oldest child will start college the same year I plan to stop working.
You can read the 5000 word version of my story here.
Who got you started and who motivates you on your Financial Independence journey?
Obviously my Dad is the main inspiration for retirement. He’s a retired teacher. He put in his time, saved, put two kids through college, and earned a healthy pension for life.
Pensions are passé now, so I’m relying on my own financial knowledge about saving and investing to reach my goal. I have a degree in finance and have been investing for the past 20 years.
I started investing when my uncle gifted me a single share of Chevron stock. I still own the share and many others today. That gift introduced me to dollar cost averaging and dividend growth investing, two strategies I utilize today.
More recently, I’m inspired by successful early retirees. It’s awesome that some people are retiring in their 30’s and 40’s. However, our family is committed to living in the D.C. area which is expensive, and paying for our kids’ college educations. These two factors put us behind the early retirement curve a bit.
Our net worth is big enough that we could retire in some cities in the U.S. today. But we’re not willing to pick up and move our lives somewhere to save on costs.
What or Who is your Why?
My wife and three kids are my why. I want to spend as much time with them as possible, while maintaining a robust career and healthy personal balance sheet. With a flexible career in IT, I’m at home a lot and play with our kids for hours every day.
Travel is another why. When our kids are all fully potty-trained, we want to give them the gift of travel while they’re still young. The traveling I’ve done has been among the most transformative experiences of my life. Passing that on to my kids is probably the best life experience I can give them.
We’re saving aggressively today so that we can provide our kids a fully paid in-state undergraduate education, so they are not saddled with debt upon graduation. My parents provided this to me with the understanding that I’d pay it forward someday.
Financial independence plays a role in all of these things… time with family, life experiences and the best educational opportunities for our kids.
Do you have any debt? If so do you have a plan to pay this off before FI?
For the past 10 years I’ve been completely free of all consumer debt. We have two mortgages, one for our house, and another for a condo rental. But recently, we’ve taken on some home equity debt (at 2% interest rate) to cover a few large home expenses.
I believe that debt is the least of your financial problems. Time, lack of earnings ability and overspending are much bigger fish to fry. From a strategy perspective, debt is easy to eliminate, while building and growing wealth is a much more difficult task. Debt can be a ball and chain, but it doesn’t have to be when used correctly. A lot of people get very rich by using debt.
That said, my preference is to be debt-free. We intend to pay off the home mortgage by the time I retire at age 55. That gives us about 15 years from today. It’s very doable, but I’m still paying the minimums now because the rates are so low. I may increase principal payments, or aim to pay a lump sum when I turn 55. The main idea is to keep our expenses as low as possible when we’re living off of investment income and retirement savings.
This plan, of course, is always subject to change! I’m always reevaluating, and often share the most recent thoughts on the blog.
What planned income streams are you working on towards FI and Early Retirement?
In lieu of relying solely on the 4% rule, I prefer to have the flexibility and diversity of building income through multiple channels. Some of these I intend to carry into retirement, others are simply tools for building wealth.
I primarily invest in tax-advantaged accounts first. I have a crappy 401k plan at work, and a few IRAs for both me and my wife. When I reach the ripe old age of 59 ½, withdrawing from those accounts will be the main source of income.
When I retire early, I may tap into tax-advantaged accounts if needed, as long as the tax consequences are minimal.
In taxable accounts, I invest in dividend growth stocks and marketplace lending (Lending Club) to build income streams for the retirement years prior to 59 ½. I also own a rental property that provides positive cash flow. But I may sell that on the sooner side in favor of better real estate investments or another opportunity.
What are your plans during early retirement? (Travel, special projects, part-time work)
Travel is our primary motivation for early retirement. I’ve already traveled to about 50 countries. Mrs. RBD and I plan to spend extended periods of time in great towns and cities around the world while knocking off another 50 countries or so. Slow travel over land has always been the best experience for me.
When we’re not on the road, I expect to spend a lot of time exercising, cooking, reading, visiting family, doing home improvement projects and enjoying the great city we live in.
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