Tell our readers a little about yourself, your blog, and your early retirement.
We're a Canadian couple who have been working towards early retirement since 2011, and blogging about it over at Incoming Assets since 2013. The finish line is now in sight, with about two more years to go! I think people find our story interesting because we have solidly average income, yet still manage to save over 60% of our income and travel extensively.
Tell me about the early days. How did you get started?
Three things happened at the same time in 2011, which started the whole sequence. First, my partner finished university, started working in a grocery store, and realized how badly it sucked. Second, I ended up working in a warehouse at an absolutely terrible place and was desperately looking for some sort of way out. Third, we did our first international trip together, to England, and both realized how much better our lives would be if we could spend our time travelling and doing fun things instead of working. I stumbled across Early Retirement Extreme shortly after getting back to Canada, and we never looked back.
We both immediately started looking for better jobs, and found them within about six months. I started tracking our spending, and we made a few minor changes in our spending to bump up our savings rates. We set up a very simple system of dumping all our extra money into index funds every payday, and have continued doing that right up to the present time.
What roadblocks did you hit along the way? Any mistakes we can learn from?
The only thing we have ever struggled with was getting our income up to average level, since we were starting out quite low. I don't think we ever made any really notable mistakes since we always followed an extremely simple system - keeping our spending low, savings high, and funneling the excess straight into index funds. We prefer to keep things really simple.
What does your lifestyle look like? How were you able to save such a high percentage of your income?
We live a pretty normal-looking Vancouver lifestyle. We rent a studio apartment downtown, which works for us because we are fairly minimalist and don't need a lot of space. I cook everything we eat from scratch, and like experimenting in the kitchen. We regularly take fitness classes together, and also both like to read, play video games, and go hiking when the weather is good. Right now we typically spend about 10% of the year travelling, mostly overseas. We've been to about 30 countries so far across Europe, Asia, and North and Central America, with many more upcoming.
I think the reason our savings rate is so high is that we were very careful about the big choices, like making sure we didn't rent a place that was too expensive, or buy a car or make other expensive financial commitments. We also generally try to avoid being lazy and paying people to do things we can do ourselves, like cooking. Finally, we're fairly minimalist and environmentalist, so we avoid buying a lot of things for those reasons as well. I'm exploring reduced/zero waste right now, and finding it really interesting.
Have there been any unexpected negatives or issues you have had since retiring?
We're not retired yet, but hopefully not!
What books, tools, resources do you recommend to others?
I am a fan of Mint for tracking spending, the Early Retirement Extreme book for FIRE philosophy/theory, and some of the more active online discussions spots, like the Mr. Money Mustache forums and financial independence subreddits. I also like the Mad Fientist Laboratory, which allows you to input your numbers and forecast time to retirement on a monthly basis. I've been using that for quite a few years and it's neat seeing the graph change over time.
What's next for you?
Right now we're trying to figure out if we want to move to an island or not, so we're spending 2019 visiting a bunch of them to see is any really call out to us. Besides that, we're excited for our upcoming summer trip to Japan to celebrate our ten year anniversary, and wherever we end up going in the winter. But otherwise, we're just going to keep going along the path we set many years ago.