A FIRE-side Chat with Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire

FIRE-Side Chat with Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire

Hello folks! I have something special for you today…introducing A FIRE-side Chat! And to start things off I have a special guest, Steve from ThinkSaveRetire. This is a new interview series I’ve started to share the journey toward FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early) from others. I’m a believer that personal finance is personal and it is important to find our own path toward FIRE. That is why I think hearing from others as we share a journey toward FIRE is a great way to help us formulate our own ideas and our own path. So without further ado, let’s hear from Steve!

Introduction Questions:

First, tell me a little bit about yourself. Who you are and what’s your story?

I am a 35 year old information technology guy who blogs at ThinkSaveRetire.com. Over the years of working in corporate America, I steadily grew dissatisfied with the daily grind of building a career and letting my money control me. Though I had the nicer things in life (sports car, motorcycle, house in the suburbs), I was not happy with my life. I needed to make a change. Now we live in a 200 square foot trailer with our two dogs and love every minute of it.

When did your interest in personal finance begin? Did your parents have an active role in your financial literacy growing up?

My interest in personal finance didn’t really begin until I decided that early retirement was possible. Before that point, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to my financial situation. I did maintain a budget, but I routinely cheated it, too. Though I saved some (often only the bare minimum), I was a financial mess.

My parents taught me how to budget. Compared to many, I had quite a bit of financial literacy taught to me as a child. But, that doesn’t mean I accepted that financial advice…well, until later in life, that is!

At what point did you learn about and begin your FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early) journey?

It was just a couple of years ago. Once I grew dissatisfied with my life enough, I began to read quite a bit and got more familiar with the concept of financial independence and early retirement. Once I understood that early retirement was possible (yes, even for me!), I began to chart my course full steam ahead. The rest, as they say, is history. Of course, I recount some of this history on the blog.  🙂

FIRE Journey Questions:

Where are you currently on your path toward FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early)? Just starting, retired already, or somewhere in the middle?

I’m retiring in December. My wife will retire at the end of March, 2017. Basically, we are rounding third.

If you are still on the road to FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early), when do you expect to reach your goal and what’s your strategy to achieve it?

December, 2016. Strategy is very simple – just save as much as possible. Our retirement goals are time based, not necessarily money based. Whatever we have at the time will be enough!

Tell me how you would consider your FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early) journey to be unique.

Honestly, it’s not all that unique. We are taking a very typical route to early retirement by saving as much as we can with two salaries. Our post-retirement lifestyle of living full-time in an Airstream, however, might be a little more unique (okay, a LOT more!). Our extreme early retirement dates are enabled by our post-retirement lifestyle that includes this very frugal living arrangement. No more utilities. No more rent unless we actually choose to stay in a campground. Our goal is to find as many free camping areas as we can (on BLM land, for example) to keep our costs low in retirement.

Strategizing FIRE Questions:

What has been your primary motivation to reach FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early)?

Dissatisfaction from building careers in corporate America was the primary motivator for me. Thereafter, a reprioritization to building a life routed in freedom has propelled us further down this road. We want out of the corporate grind, and fast!

I can’t remember where I heard this first, but I hold dear the advice that it is important to “retire to” something rather than “retiring from” something. What will you be retiring to?

For us, it’s about nature. We love to hike and will do quite a bit of that once we have the luxury of planning our entire day around what we actually want to do. We also have our creative pursuits that will fill much of our time, including the growth of our financial blog (ThinkSaveRetire.com) as well as our sister YouTube channel (A Streamin’ Life). We would love to create a documentary while on the road about what it is like to live full-time in an Airstream (or RV in general).

What will your housing situation be like in retirement? Do you plan on moving to a low cost area, to the beach or mountains? Or will you become nomadic, traveling the world more freely?

100% nomadic living in an Airstream RV. In the short term we will travel around the U.S. In the future, we do plan on traveling around the world (but not in the RV). Our international travels will need to wait until our rescued dogs are no longer with us.

Wealth Creation Questions:

Retiring early is quite an extraordinary feat…and requires some pretty extraordinary behaviors to rapidly create wealth. In your focus on wealth creation, do you tend to gravitate toward making more money or arresting expenses?

I like to take the easy route, which is definitely cutting expenses. We have found that we just don’t need that much to feel satisfied…far less than we thought we did before our FIRE adventures.

What has been one of your biggest successes in either advancing your career to make more money or taking control on the expense side to progress on your journey toward FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early)?

We downsized from two homes into a 200 square foot RV. This change has streamlined our expenses and has given us the confidence to make this move (literally!). Being 100% debt free is an amazing feeling that has certainly upped the ante a bit with wealth building and planning for our future.

While controlling expenses are important, you still need to live and enjoy life. What is one or two of your favorite areas to spend money on?

I love going out to eat. I love the environment. People are generally happy and smiling. Friends or family are often at the same table. Everybody is having a good time. We have significantly curtailed our restaurant budget, but this is definitely the area that I tend to spend money on to enjoy.

The Wrap-Up:

If you won the lottery or received a large inheritance to the tune of $1 million or so, what would you do with it and why?

At the moment, we’d invest 100% of our after-tax “winnings” and continue on with our plans as if we didn’t win a dime. That means I would continue working until December 23rd of this year and my wife would remain on the job (because she told her boss that she would) through March of next year. We would definitely enjoy watching all that extra money grow in the market, providing beautiful life-blood for our post-retirement adventures!

What is your favorite finance and non-finance related book, podcast, magazine, blog, etc and why?

My favorite would have to be “The Millionaire Next Door”. It does such a nice job proving that millionaires are all around us. They are generally frugal, too. They wear regular clothes and drive regular cars. In fact, for MOST of us, living frugally is HOW we amass those fortunes. Driving around in debt and a German luxury car doesn’t make us rich. It only makes us appear rich – well, at least appear rich to those of us who haven’t read “The Millionaire Next Door”.

What advice would you give to folks considering or just starting their journey toward FIRE (Financial Independence Retiring Early)?

You must WANT early retirement. You cannot half-ass such a huge step in your financial life. I had half-assed this in a previous life and I’m now working longer because of it.  If you want early retirement bad enough, you will make it happen. Regardless of your income or financial standing, this lifestyle is achievable by anyone. It may not be easy. It may take many, many years to make happen. But, it is possible. You can achieve this lifestyle. The only requirement is that you WANT IT, and want it bad.

If you are a fellow blogger, where can I find you?

I blog over at ThinkSaveRetire.com. You will also find me on Twitter (@thinksaveretire) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa0lCH2dpXz_GfvQaTWay9w).

 

Thanks for sitting down and chatting today, Steve! Look for more FIRE-side chats to be featured here in the future.

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  • Rounding third? You’re flat on your belly, sliding in the dirt, arm outstretched, with your fingertips just a few inches from homeplate! Enjoy your last week or so of work, and a Most Happy Holiday season!

    Having motorhome dreams of our own, I had to look up BLM land. It looks like the western third of our great nation is mostly BLM land. Being equipped to live off the grid with those solar panels will certainly save you money in the long run.

    Great interview, fellas. I look forward to more of these!
    -PoF

  • I was thinking the same thing as PoF about the “rounding third” comment, lol. Less than a week of work to go is a lot closer to home plate, than 3rd base. Nice job getting there man!

    Nice interview and looking forward for more to come!

    • Totally. I wrote this interview a little while ago, so at the time I was probably a little closer up the line towards third. But now…yeah, I can definitely see the finish line, and it ain’t far!

  • Count me as a third one that went, “your nowhere near 3rd base”. Your watching the ball drop at the outfielders feet while your run the last 3 feet to home. I look forward to hearing more about your post retirement adventures. The sheer concept of living off BLM land for free is foreign to me being from a north eastern state where there is no free camping except maybe the Walmart parking lot…

    • Yeah, sadly nothing much out east for BLM. Honestly, I am partial to the West anyway, but this gives me another reason to be!

  • Gotta love PoF’s “fingertips just a few inches from homeplate!”. I think we all had the same thought!! Love your new “Fire Side Chat” format, and great to start it with Steve. We’re rooting for you, Steve, and hope to be parked near you on that BLM land when we “round third” in June 2018!!

    • Ha! Thanks Fritz. You are always welcome next to us…or even on our front patio, where ever we happen to be. Just bring beer! 🙂

  • Arrgo

    Its always helpful to hear others ideas and strategies. You can always learn something that you havent thought of before. I’ve enjoyed Steve’s posts on his site.

    • JW

      Totally agree, thanks Arrgo!

    • Thanks Arrgo, appreciate the kind words. Appreciate you reading the interview, too – it was fun! 🙂

  • Awesome stuff, JW and Steve!

    The documentary idea’s a great one…just as long as you don’t say stuff like “rounding third” when you mean “lowering a shoulder to knock out the catcher’s teeth.”

    Nice stuff, guys – cheers!

  • LOVE this series!!! Looking forward to hearing all the stories!!

  • I love the concept of this series. This is definitely going to be fun to read through!!!

    Thanks for sharing Steve I definitely look forward to reading about your adventure. I have always thought it would be fun to live out of an RV and traveling around the US. Congrats on meeting your goals!!!

  • “You cannot half-ass such a huge step in your financial life.” *nods head in agreement so hard that head might detach from neck*

    6 days Steve! ONLY 6 FREAKING DAYS! I need to calm down and remind myself that I am not the one retiring. Or rounding third. Approaching third maybe.

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  • Wow, Steve. With less than a week to go before the holidays (rather extended for you), this must be a giddy time. I can imagine how you feel getting to work this last week – not much to look forward to, except maybe for buddy breakfasts and farewell lunches. Enjoy the slow week to the slower pace of life. Your adventures on BLM land would befit many stories that we expect to hear!

  • Great interview, and I love this series idea! Good work Green Swan, it will be very interesting reading so many different perspectives of how people are pursuing FIRE.

    • JW

      Awesome Matt, glad you’re excited! Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for this, Green Swan and Steve.

    I always like hearing more from bloggers about their lives, goals, and motivations. This forum provides a little different slant and helps me get to know you a little better.

    Your retirement date is just around the corner, Steve. Congratulations! I look forward to reading more about your post-work life shortly.

    And, I look forward to more fireside chats.

    • JW

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed!

  • JW – Great interview and great idea for a series! I was just talking to my wife today about starting a series for the new year too!

    Steve – Congrats again on getting out alive! Enjoy your last few days at the office. I think the new lifestyle will give you loads of opportunities for awesome content and I’m looking forward to checking it all out!

    • JW

      You’ll have to let me know when you start the series, I’d love to participate. Thanks, Jon!

  • Interesting to hear about your future travels on an Airstream. Do these free campsites offer electricity hookups, or will you mostly be relying on generator/solar?

  • As far as international travel, have you thought about ‘taking turns’ until the rescue dogs are gone? My husband and I sometimes travel separately. A couple of years ago, I took a solo backpack trip to Australia for three weeks. As a female, it felt like quite an adventure to travel half way around the world by myself, with no itinerary, group tour, etc… I met a ton of people also, way more than when I have travel companions, and it felt more like a ‘journey’ than just another travel experience. Anyway, I know from your blog that you like adventure, so something to think about. I think everyone, especially women, should try this at some point in their life.

  • I know a few couples who do this as well and are very happy in their RV. Best wishes on your new adventure!