Our story is fairly unique: Both my wife and I sold our homes, bought an Airstream and travel the country full-time with our two rescued dogs. A nomadic life is how we’ve chosen to achieve financial independence. It’s our way.
But, it may not be your way. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Whenever our story gets picked up by the mainstream media, there always seems to be this contingent of folks who interpret our story to be a criticism of theirs. Because we write about our story and are proud of it, we’re somehow elevating ourselves above everyone else.
Here’s my response to that assumption: Bullshit.
That said: We LOVE being featured in the media. We love knowing that our story is getting out there. Every time we’re featured, I get emails from people telling me their own story. And, 98% of the emails I get are positive. It’s this interaction with people that makes enduring mainstream criticism worth it. I feed on hate, but I love this interaction more.
Why you might want to ignore our story
Make no mistake about it, my wife and I are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years. We both made two respectable salaries in information technology. We saved close to 70% of our combined income. We sold most of our possessions and hit the road.
I never truly liked “work”, though. From the moment I set foot in my first office and plopped my ass down into my first cubicle, I did so only because I thought this was normal. After all, I spent the last four years of my life in school in pursuit of a piece of paper they call a “degree”, then got a job working in a sterile neutral gray death chamber alongside nicely dressed inhabitants of the same breed.
I loved the thought of more money, but I hated the process to get there.
I always made good money, and that was perhaps the biggest problem of all. The money is what kept me from improving my life and moving on. The paychecks kept me coming back for more, like a thirsty hamster playing with that little water dispenser for a drink – or a rat meandering its way through a maze for the promise of a piece of cheese.
Now, we’re proud to be able to wake up every morning with a sense of freedom and excitement. The whole day is ours. Every day. We do whatever we damn well please, and we thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to design our lives in a way that makes the most sense for us.
We make no apologies for the life we chose or the way we live.
But! We also don’t believe that those of you who still work full-time jobs are supposedly beneath us or inferior. We’re not “better” than anyone else just because we happen to live a very different lifestyle. We’re different. That’s it.
We love to tell our story. We’re proud of our story. I am insanely confident about the path we’ve chosen and our way of life. But, that doesn’t mean we’re superior to anyone. We are all just different with our own set of unique priorities.
If we were all exactly the same, life would be pretty damn boring.
If you have no interest in full-time travel or living in a 200 square foot aluminum cylinder that we most affectionately refer to as “Charlie“, safely ignore those elements of our story. We also subscribe to the concept of LeanFIRE, which means we watch our expenses closely and only spend a fraction of what most people spend. If you’re more of a FatFIRE kind of person, that’s cool. You’ll probably find a lot about our lifestyle that seems like a sacrifice, and that’s okay too. Dismiss our LeanFIRE-ness and focus elsewhere.
I believe that:
- Privilege exists, but it’s not the primary element in early retirement
- The healthcare industry sucks, so we’re staying out of it (sorta)
- A high income isn’t the only way to retire early
- Debt is nearly always bad, except for a few exceptions
- Minimalism sucks
We believe these things because we’ve found them to be true in our life. You might be different. That’s cool, no sweat. Different strokes for different folks.
Take things that make sense; forget the rest
I’m a believer that most of us can learn something from virtually anyone’s story. While I could never relate to Mr. Money Mustache’s mastery with house-building or adherence to bike-riding, I still learned a heck of a lot about financial independence and streamlining our lifestyle by absorbing those elements of his story.
Same with Tim Ferriss. He’s at this mystical existential level that I’ll never achieve, but that’s okay. I make an effort to listen to and consider those elements of his story that apply most directly to my life. Then, and forget the rest.
Like, his Four Hour Work Week stuff? That shit’s gold, but it still doesn’t all apply to me. Still, I picked particular elements from his work to apply to my life. I especially liked the concept of productivity spurts and maximizing your productive hours based on how you work best. And outsourcing the stuff that we don’t enjoy or that takes time away from more fruitful endeavors. It won’t work for everyone but it worked for me.
Think of this like picking out those delicious red M&Ms from the bowl and leaving all the other colors (and dismiss the fact that they all taste the same anyway!). Pick what you like. Leave the rest. Trust me, I won’t be offended.
Also, a little blog restructuring
Last week, my wife and I restructured the blog a bit in an effort to better position this sucker to actually help people. This thing used to be OUR story. What WE are doing.
The personal side will still be here, but we’re also transforming this digital entity into more of a “resource”. No, I don’t claim to be some early retirement or money “expert“. I’m not one of those “life coaches”, counselors or advisors. Instead, I’m just a dude with a perspective to share.
My perspective covers three broad areas:
Together, those areas hit at the large majority of what makes freedom possible. Not just financial freedom, either. Yes, early retirement is a part of our story, but a component of this restructuring effort is taking a higher level perspective on change. Even if you have no interest in early retirement, the goal is to keep this here blog useful and helpful – through and through, regardless of your personal goal.
My goal is simple: You’ll find helpful material here regardless of your life’s ambitions. Whether you want to open up your own hampster store, used German dungeon cutlery shop or just travel the world in search of the Lock Ness Monster, this little place on the Internet will add value to that part of your life. Somehow.
As always, thanks so much for being a reader. I value your loyalty more than I could possibly describe.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.