How a Guy Selling Hot Dogs Retired Early
You read that right, the guy selling hot dogs and sausages is retiring early, he officially closed up shop on October 3rd, although I’m sure he still receives some money from his book. I happened to be searching around the MMM forum, mostly because I was curious what was Mustachianism Around the Web and came across this Hot Dog mention, which led me to this Chicago Tribune Article and interview. I’m going to highlight the financial questions and answers and any talk about retiring early and get into it. I mean Hot Dog, I’m excited! To corn dog for you? I’ll stop I promise, let the interview begin.
Q: The most frequent comment I’ve seen on social media regarding your closure is, “People are waiting six hours-plus for a hot dog? They’re crazy.” Are people crazy?
A: No. People spend $60,000 for a car. I think that’s insane, when I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla that gets me where I want to go. I mean, it’s not like they’re waiting in your living room. If you don’t want to wait for hot dogs, I’m not sending you a summons. Are people crazy to spend $500 on a meal? Someone binge watching “The Good Wife” for six hours is a good thing, but waiting for food isn’t? I don’t judge.
Even Steven Money(ESM): Like the Millionaire Next Door we have found out that those who are millionaires or in this case ready to retire are driving around older vehicles not the $60,000 sports car, they instead are driving around a car from 20 years ago because it simply doesn’t make financial sense to do anything else. I bet Hot Doug follows the 10% Rule on car buying! He goes on to mention the over consumption that most of America does on a daily basis: eating out at fancy restaurants and watching way too much TV. The hidden message in all of this is go ahead wait in line, it’s free to do so and probably better than what most people are doing while you stand in line for some hot dogs.
Q: You wouldn’t close up shop if you’re not financially set, right?
A: I don’t live above my means. I’ve always put money away.
ESM: Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, instead put that money in savings, you never know when you are going to want to retire.
Q: Someone once offered you seven figures to franchise the restaurant. That would be hard for most people to turn down.
A: Any decision I’ve made that was purely for the money, I’ve always regretted.
ESM: Spoken from experience it sounds like, which I find interesting as I start to use affiliate links and market items that I use and believe in, like Republic Wireless and Amazon.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
A: My grandfather said if you make $100 and you spend $101, you’re in trouble. You know, I remember reading this interview once with the president of Sony from 30 years ago. They were asking about the Walkman and how much market research was done. He said, “We didn’t do market research. We created this product, made it at the right price and told people they need it.” People would say, “You sell sausages?” “Yeah, but we sell good sausages.”
ESM: It sounds so simple but it’s a topic money experts and your grandfather talk about as one of their commandments, don’t spend more than you earn. He talks a little about his business strategy, which really says if you are going to sell anything make sure it’s a good product that people will need and like, once again sounds simple right?
Q: What would you have told your 22-year-old self?
A: I don’t know. And this is where studying philosophy in college helped: I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all the decisions, good or bad, some that worked out and some didn’t, all of which that lead to this point. I’m very content now. There were no wrong decisions. There were decisions. I get the “what will you do next” question a lot, and honestly I don’t know. That’s exciting. I have the luxury of not having kids who have to go to college or need braces.
ESM: This really explains why I am passionate about money and personal finance. I have made good and bad decisions, which have lead me to where I am today and that’s on my way to financial independence. If things had gone differently maybe I would be selling financial products in Miami, trying to drive that expensive car and buy that big house, no matter what the cost.
Q: Visiting Hot Doug’s before it closes is on the bucket list of a lot of people.
A: It’s flattering. But the idea of a bucket list makes no sense to me. Because you’re trying to accomplish something purely for the sake of accomplishing it. The goal is to the journey. Some of my greatest memories are things that happened that I didn’t set out to do. “Oh, this restaurant is close, so we detoured here instead and that was extraordinary.”
ESM: The goal is the journey. This is one of my fears that I look to avoid on my path to FI.
Q: You’re 52. Are you retiring?
A: No, no. From the restaurant business? Yes.
ESM: When I sat down with Mr. 1500 days, this was something we specifically talked about. Would we retire from our day to day jobs? Yes. We talked about a cool beer finding app and traveling to golf with my Dad for a month and play bring your friend to work day with one of my best friends growing up, but eventually work on something we care about and have a passion for.
Q: When will you get back to work?
A: I can’t imagine anything happening until spring. I want to travel a bit. In October I’ll be renting an RV for two weeks with my girlfriend — we’re heading down the bourbon trail in Kentucky, the Carolinas, Nashville and Dollywood, because you’re obligated to visit Dollywood if you rent an RV.
ESM: I would do almost exactly what Doug has plans for. I’d want to take a little break, kind of let things sink in, then I’d like to travel go to places I would love to see, maybe a nice West Coastline drive, backpack parts of Europe, or I hear Canada is nice this time of year!
Q: What’s your next job going to be?
A: I’ve got a bunch of ideas. I get the feeling it’ll be multiple things. The two things I do know: It won’t be a restaurant and it won’t be a food truck. I’d like to gear toward giving back in some capacity, maybe a charity or non-profit.
ESM: Is this what everyone wants to do? Nobody wants to do the same job, but if they can help and make a difference with their new found time and energy it would be a beautiful way to live, don’t you agree?
If you are interested in reading more about Hot Doug, check out his book(affiliate link).