Financial Independence After Tragedy

Financial Independence After Tragedy

Today, I’m excited to put a Mad Fientist reader under the microscope for the first time!

A reader named Clay was brave enough to share his story so please take some time to read about his journey and share any advice you may have in the comments.

Clay unexpectedly lost his wife in a tragic accident shortly after adopting two children so his path to FI has been anything but easy. Despite this awful tragedy, he is nearing the FI finish line and has a lot of great advice to share about pursuing financial independence (and about life in general).


Clay and Daughters


Was a Network Engineer for years, now I’m a Section Supervisor for a networking group.

Current after-tax savings rate

Right about 50%

Time to FI

The current plan is to drop out before I turn 50 in July of 2018. I’m not sure I’ll make it that long, since most of my spreadsheets tell me I’m right on the edge of FI right now. I’ve got a few loose ends I’d like to tie up but would really like to pull the trigger before the big Five-O so I can be that asshole at the party who can say he retired in his forties.

How did you get on the path to FI?

I’ve always been a firm believer in happiness over money. I’ve also hated waste and lifestyle inflation. I’ve always biked to work, drove paid off cars, and lived within my means.

In 2005 my wife and I took are hard look at our finances because we were preparing to adopt our first child. Made up a will, got some life insurance, basically got our shit together. We had tried for so long to have children that we really wanted to focus on this little one. So we got used to living on my paycheck alone and when the little bugger arrived it was an easy transition. So easy in fact that in 2009 we adopted our second. The finances part was easy mind you, not the kids part. Holy crap-on-a-cracker THAT was an interesting time.

Then in 2010 my world collapsed. My wife was killed in a freak auto-accident. I’m left with two kids under 5 and no idea what I’m going to do next.

In times of crisis I need to put things in order so this is what I did. With part of the insurance I bought two pre-paid tuition plans for my girls. I got my affairs in order, hired a live-in nanny, took some parenting classes, solicited cooking advice, and eventually went back to work.

By now I’m understandably having real deep thoughts on life. What is important? What am I going to do? I start to get obsessed with the concept of simplicity and before I go off and start building a tiny house, I stumble into the concept of early retirement.

I was trying to map out my next move and then in 2013 I get laid off from my job of 25 years at a University. (Are you freaking kidding me?) This turned out to be just the push I needed. By 2014 I’d downsized to a smaller house, moved to a walkable neighborhood with great schools, got a better job where I can still bike, and put a plan in action to not have to work by 2018.

FI Strategy

My strategy has to account for having two little germ factories at home to keep happy. I’m of course focusing on reducing spending where I can. Since my kids are both in school, I’ll be able to reduce my nanny hours, which will help immensely. The next few years the focus will be on maximizing savings while still maintaining a realistic lifestyle.

Clay's Family

I’m front-loading the 401k, getting a 10% match from work, and busting down the mega backdoor roth. (thanks MadFI!) I take full advantage of flexible savings plans for child care and health costs. I kind of geek out when I do my taxes so I’m always looking for ways to optimize.

Outside of the paycheck I have two rental properties that should cover about a third of my post-RE income needs. I’ve only had them for a 3 years but so far they have worked out quite well.

There is also a monthly survivors benefit payment for the kids for will keep coming (tax free) until they finish high-school, which is another third of post-RE income.


About ⅔ of my net worth split up between 401k/457b (Vanguard), Betterment, and Personal Capital and is invested as follows.

Cash 2.1%
International Bonds 4.2%
US Bonds 9.0%
International Stocks 27%
US Stocks 52.4%
Alternatives 5.4%

The other ⅓ is in real estate between my home (still have a mortgage) and the rental properties, which I own outright.

Future Investment Changes and Post-Retirement Income Strategy

I’m not fiddling around with my current allocation much. I’ll probably leave it fairly aggressive since I’m hoping to not tap too much of it Post-RE.

When I do take the leap it will be interesting to see how close my expense projections and current spending is to Post-RE life. I’m hoping the added time means less spent on eating out and buying convenience foods. Also child care expenses should drop to almost nil. I’ll still need some eyes on the little rascals so myself and my financially-savvy and lovely girlfriend can spend a frugal night on the town.

I might consider paying off my house once I retire, since the tax benefit of the mortgage interest would be gone. However, I’m seriously considering buying another rental property instead which would bring a more positive cash flow after the same initial outlay.

Post-FI Plans

I’m really intrigued by slow travel and the idea of a “gap year” for my kids in another country. I’ve done some cross-country bicycle touring in the past and would really enjoy spending long summer vacations on the road. Maybe a small RV or a tent is in my future.

I’ve been playing music almost daily for several years now and I’d really like to have a standing gig playing in a cheesy coffee shop somewhere. It has always been a hidden dream of mine so maybe it’s time to make that happen.

Since I’ll still have a good 10+ years of being just Dad to my girls before they ship off for college, I’ll be spending a big part of Post-FI just being a big a pain in their butts. A retired Dad with IT skills can spend loads of time researching the background of would-be suitors.

Best part of being on path to FI

The finance aspect is only part of it. What I’m really enjoying is honing the focus on what is truly important. It is so healthy to take a hard look at life, finance, work, friends, and family. Oh and I love the idea of having a track to that F-You money,

Biggest challenge while pursuing FI

Old habits die hard. I’ll still splurge on the occasional tech toy. I’m terrible at packing a lunch for work. It also takes some effort to not fall into the “only the best” for my kids trap. Otherwise I find the financial track to FI fits right in with my general thinking anyway so it hasn’t been a huge sacrifice at all.

I think the biggest challenge for me will be emotional. I’ve worked and defined myself by what I do for so long that coming to grips with a new reality will be an adjustment. Will I be happy as just “Dad”? There is also still part of me that is uneasy with the idea of “leaving money on the table” so to speak. The security of that regular paycheck is hard to let go of.

Questions for your fellow fientists

Early-retired and with children? I’d love to hear how the heck you do it.

Any parting advice?

Life can change in an instant. Believe me. This is not a cliche. FI as a goal is wonderful but it isn’t the only thing in life. The recent post by our slightly mad host should be required reading. So is this quote from Hemingway…

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Mad Fientist’s Comments

I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through but excellent job creating a stable life for your children and keeping a positive attitude despite everything that’s happened. Rather than feel sorry for yourself and give up when you lost your wife and then your job, you instead took action and worked hard to improve your family’s situation. I think your story will not only be inspirational to others dealing with hardship but it will also help people prioritize the things that are important on their FI journey and in life in general so thank you very much for sharing!

I don’t have any kids myself, so I don’t have any personal advice, but I did interview a very interesting guy with 13 kids who is nearing early retirement so check out that post for a lot of excellent FI-with-kids advice!

Do you have your money split between Betterment and Personal Capital? If so, I’d consider consolidating, since I imagine both of those services work better when they have a complete picture of your financial situation.

I feel the same way about worrying about “leaving money on the table” and I’m not exactly sure how to overcome that. I’ve finally worked my way into a job that I enjoy, that doesn’t get in the way of my life, and pays good money (see The Power of Quitting) so I feel like quitting would be like throwing away a winning lottery ticket but I also realize that life could be even better after leaving full-time work so I’m not sure when to call it quits.

I recently had the pleasure of spending the weekend hanging out with Mr. Money Mustache and I asked for his advice and he said I need to remove money completely from all of my equations so if I would do my job for free, keep doing it, but if not, think about quitting (here’s his excellent post on that idea). I’m trying to work my way into that mindset but I’m still not quite there yet! Old habits die hard, as you mentioned :)

Overall, it seems like you’re on a great trajectory so nice job again, thanks for sharing, and hopefully your remaining journey to FI and beyond will be smooth sailing!

Reader Suggestions

Do you have any suggestions for Clay? Anything you think he could improve on to speed up his journey to FI?

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49 comments for “Financial Independence After Tragedy

  1. Fervent Finance
    July 29, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Clay – you have done an awesome job! I’m just beginning my path to FI and this is definitely inspirational. It looks like you have considered all the important items (family, taxes, FI income, etc.) and have a very thought out plan. I wish you the best, and was just curious when reading – what part of the country/world are you from?

    • Stockbeard
      July 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      I agree, Clay’s kept his act together in the face of insane adversity, this is really inspiring.
      I just love the picture of you (Clay) and your daughters with the frying pans, they look adorable and it seems you have a really strong connection. This is what matters, and if FI helps you be even more connected with them and the rest of your family, that’s awesome!

    • Clay
      July 30, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Thanks! I’m from the Maryland suburbs.

  2. Ali @ Anything You Want
    July 29, 2015 at 8:09 am

    I can hardly offer a suggestion, but I would like to congratulate Clay. Many people take tragedy and fall apart. It sounds like he has grown stronger, for himself and his children, and he should be commended for that. Allowing tragedy to help you re-evaluate your priorities is perhaps the silver lining here.

    • Mrs. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets
      August 20, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Yes, your perseverance in such an unimaginable tragedy is remarkable. Your girls are so adorable by the way!

  3. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip
    July 29, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Clay. It is really inspiring and I really enjoyed it. I can feel your excitement! It is amazing though how life can suddenly change in an instant, isn’t it? My first husband passed away from a stroke and it was very life altering. Since you love music, have you heard Joe Nichols’ song The Shape I’m In?

  4. David D
    July 29, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Great job! If you haven’t already, check out for someone who has a child and has already retired.

    • Clay
      July 30, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Thanks David. I read retire by 40 often. Root of Good is also great.

  5. Markola
    July 29, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Thank you for sharing your very real life story. It could indeed happen to anyone at any time, and it is surely the rare younger couple who had their act together and were financially and legally prepared as much as you. Inspiring. I noticed that your asset allocation is very close to our own core holding in our tax-advantaged accounts, which is the Vanguard fund of index funds called LifeStrategy Growth Fund. It provides a self-balancing, globally-diverse index approach for a .17 management fee. Just FYI.

  6. brooklynguy
    July 29, 2015 at 9:28 am

    What a moving and inspirational story (and what a lovely family)! Regarding the “leaving money on the table” issue, I always like to remind myself that it never goes away — someone who voluntarily retires from a well-paying job at the age of 95 is leaving money on the table too. The key is to realize (and internalize) that once you have “enough,” accumulating more doesn’t do you any good.

    • Clay
      July 30, 2015 at 8:18 am

      Good point. I think it will be difficult to transition from spending money I’ve earned to spending money I’ve saved. Even if the math says its fine.

  7. Chef @ Fry The Financial Fish
    July 29, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story! Wanting the best life for your children is a great motivating factor for perusing financial independence. I cannot imagine the struggles of being a single parent- it must make it really difficult. We have 4 children under the age of 6 so we are used to the chaos, but for us it really helps that my wife is stay at home mom. In about a year she is planning to return to work so I will get to see first hand how chaotic things are with 2 parents working. Just keep your eyes on the prize- keep it going and good luck with everything!

    • Clay
      July 30, 2015 at 8:29 am

      I fell very lucky to have lots of support from family and friends. So many single parent totally rock it with far fewer resources then me. I have mad respect for them all.
      P.S. I love fish.

  8. Dorf
    July 29, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Clay, thank you so much for your story; it was so inspiring to read it, and I loved your ‘voice’: both humorous and deeply authentic. Best wishes to you and your family.

  9. Andrew
    July 29, 2015 at 10:34 am

    You are a strong person to have overcome such a tragedy. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. As to “leaving money on the table” it is one of the biggest things I struggle with. I work in government and will have a pension at about 55…but there is a big penalty for leaving early. It’s hard to leave that money behind and I call that pension my golden handcuffs. But obviously there is more to life than money…and you just have to figure out when you have “enough” as brooklynguy said.

  10. Vawt @ Early Retirement Ahead
    July 29, 2015 at 10:36 am

    I agree buy another rental property instead of paying off your mortgage, the extra cash flow would be more beneficial. This is an inspirational story, I applaud your dedication and fortitude. thanks for sharing.

    I plan on retiring when my boys are 6.5 and 8 (they are 3 and almost 2 right now). That would put me sort of like you with 10 years of them in school with me at home. I look forward to being coach, driver, and such. I may end up working part-time or consulting, who knows. The choice is mine!

  11. Even Steven
    July 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

    What a fantastic story on what you have overcome to be where you are at today.

    Owning a couple rental properties myself, my concern with adding another would be the time spent on the property itself. I think I would want to be at a more comfortable spot in my FI/RE to make a decision that affects my time and money.

    • Clay
      July 30, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Agreed. I put high emphasis on ease of management.

  12. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure
    July 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Clay –
    I just want to add to the congrats coming at you! I’m so glad you shared your story. As someone working toward Early Retirement with three kids, I understand how difficult that can be. But there are two of us! What you will be able to offer your children will be worth so much more than anything else you will be able to give them. You made a great choice for the strength of your family. Congrats and keep up the good work!

  13. Edifi
    July 29, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Only other advice I can think of is to look for more creative domestic insourcing opportunities. Can you cut the nanny by leveraging friends (via kids trade) or family or church?
    Just stick to your goal-oriented, project-management actionable approach to problem solving!

  14. Rachel
    July 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Huge kudos to you for creating a thriving family under difficult circumstances. And about early retirement, with kids – ABSOLUTELY. We are not there yet, but are trying very hard to get there. I am 45, my husband is 43, and we have four kids, ages 17, 15, 11, and 7. I want to add something to the financial advice people have offered. Do NOT fall into the trap that it is good parenting to give them everything they want. I wonder if you might be at greater risk for this because you might feel the need to compensate. But it’s GOOD FOR THE KIDS to have to live with No. Stuff will not make them happy in the long run. Of course, extreme denial isn’t good either, but rising above the consumer culture, and their closeness with YOU, will give them tools to create their own happiness.
    My husband and I have a lot of conversations about the kids’ need to fit in with the right clothing, etc., vs. ridiculous overspending on transient things. We try to strike a reasonable balance. I’m sure we mess it up often, and I’m sure our kids will survive it.
    Keep on keeping on. Your kids have a father who has resilience, resourcefulness and a lot of love. Wishing you much success.

    • Clay
      July 30, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Totally agree. I really try to instill delayed gratification. I use a website called threejars to manage the kiddos allowance. They can track how much they have. So the decision to by the “I want! I Want!” is put on them. Funny how that toy becomes less important when it comes from their “SPEND” jar and not mine. :-)

  15. The Bearded Dragon
    July 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. As many other commenters have said, congratulations for overcoming the tragedy in your life and focusing on what is important to you. I can’t offer much in the way of advice, but just wanted to offer my congratulations!

  16. Debt Hater
    July 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Heartbreaking but also heartwarming story, thank you so much for sharing it! Love how happy everyone looks in the photos. You’re right that life can trip us up on even the most perfect and detailed of plans, and you have to find a way to adjust and adapt.

  17. Juli
    July 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. You will inspire many.

  18. Karen
    July 29, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Wow, congratulations on all you’ve achieved! What a great example you are for those girls! They’re lucky to have a such a dedicated father who can also show them what’s really important in life. Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. BW
    July 29, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    I recommend the book “Strong fathers, Strong Daughters”

    • Clay
      August 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Thanks. I’ll check it out.

  20. jlcollinsnh
    July 29, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Hey MF…

    Great choice for the first reader under the microscope.


    Love your story and what a couple of cuties you’ve got there.

    The world is filled with people explaining why it can’t be done while guys like you are just going about doing it. Well played!

    Congratulations on getting to F-you Money! :)

  21. Clay
    July 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Thanks to the MAD-FI-Master for the article. It was an interesting exercise to jot all this down. I love looking through other folks postings and seeing all the different options and challenges we all have. Every journey is unique and wondrous in its own right. -Cheers!

  22. Elephant Eater
    July 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm


    I just want to thank you for sharing your story. What you’ve been able to accomplish with all of the adversity in your life makes you an inspiration to all of us.

    I think that we in the FIRE community often get stuck in a one-track mind idea that spending is bad and saving is good. I think that if you are not willing to use your money to make the world a better place and you are living without a purpose, this is all kind of pointless. I can think of no better way to have a positive impact on the world than to take a child/children, love them as your own and give them a chance in life.

    We have been discussing adoption for some time and sharing your story and family photos is very inspirational.


  23. Jackie
    July 30, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Amazing story Clay! So inspiring and I appreciate the financial details. You truly will help others. I am on target to financial independence in 3 years (48) and stories like yours keep me motivated. A big thank you to you, Mad Fientest, and the FI community!

  24. Jason
    July 30, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I think this is great. My wife and I are in a stmilar place, at least in terms of adopting children. We have been trying for awhile and our getting to the point of going the adoption route. I would love to hear your opinion on how you approached the situation, where you went, preparing financially, etc. I am in my early 40s so adopting kids and trying to get to FI is an interesting juxtaposition for us.

    • Clay
      August 1, 2015 at 10:14 am

      When we were looking into adoption I wasn’t on the Early Retirement track. We did take advantage of the Adoption tax credit which is very helpful and offset about 75% of the cost. We did both adoptions domestically through IAC ( which is an open adoption agency. It is quite a grueling process but rewarding in the end.
      Good Luck to you!

    • Money Mitten
      August 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      We also adopted twice after trying for children for years. You’re not alone! Best of luck to you.

      Thanks for an inspirational story, Clay!

  25. Early retiree with kids
    July 31, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    I retired last year (4 months before my 50th!) and I have a 2 teens (13 and 16). They were so excited about me retiring! I was really surprised. I didn’t think they would care, really.
    One thing that has been great for me is that I have been really open with then about finances, and have shared the budget with them, let them see how the money is spent. To my surprise, they had ideas on how to reduce spending and it included things they would knowingly give up! My 13-year-old is all about not spending our money. Each year we also have one month that is declared absolutely no eating out for anything. Then we get really creative on how we can not feel deprived. It’s fun! So I highly recommend getting the kids involved in the big picture.
    The scariest thing for me now with no company paycheck is when the stock market goes down. I haven’t managed to alleviate that anxiety yet.
    Good luck to you and your girls! Just remember the 3 of you are a team and unstoppable!

    • Clay
      August 1, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Good for you! You officially retired in your 40’s as far as I’ m concerned. :-)
      Mine will be 9 and 12 if I plan it right. Do you find you do more activities as a family or do they kind of brush you off? Or is it more like “Let Dad take care of it cause he isn’t doing anything anyway.”
      Love the “no eat out” month idea.

      • Early retiree with kids
        August 1, 2015 at 5:54 pm

        I had to think about your first question and the answer is, neither, really. The reason is that they are really busy as teens. And they have bigger decisions to make than when they were little, so by being retired, I am able to be mentally “all there” for them, emotionally energetic for them, in addition to physically able to help with organizing and handling some things for them. They express appreciation a lot so I don’t feel taken for granted. I just feel really happy when there’s a need, and I can say yes to their requests without having to worry about the office or meetings or a boss.

        My teens were raised with the expectation that they do a lot of things for themselves, and they started when they were really young (shout out to Montessori education!). A first grader can make their own lunch if you set out the parameters and have the right things available to them. A 3rd grader can do their own laundry, no problem, which teaches them planning ahead. My 16-year-old has been responsible for her clothing budget since she was 11. None of this stuff stopped when I retired, so there’s no “let Dad/Mom take care of it” problems. They ask for what they want and need, if it’s something they can’t do themselves.

        As teens, they get harder and harder classes each year, more responsibilities, more expectations. While I’ve always paid close attention to what’s going on with each of them, and offered lessons or suggestions that are really timely and on target, now I have loads of mental energy to be even better. I’m so present with them now, that they love to come to me to bounce ideas off me. And I can get creative as a parent and arrange special extended learning opportunities for them, like job shadowing.

  26. Emily
    August 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Clay, I feel you brother. My hubby died three years ago after a wicked 7 year fight with cancer. The good news is, I have two amazing kids who are the world’s best travel buddies! We just finished traveling super slowly around the world for a year. Everyone is pretty quick to point out the hard things about traveling solo with kids (bless ’em) but it is such a fantastic experience.

    I’m lucky enough that I hit FI even while my husband was sick. I needed to stick with the job for the medical coverage. Now, we have a little more flexibility. I’m planning our next three-month trip through SE Asia next year.

  27. NB
    August 4, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I apologize if this was mentioned in another comment, but I wanted to share a strategy I used with a client of mine (tax CPA/PFS). First, there are a lot of personal factors that may not relate to your situation so this might not fit. My client owned a few income properties in addition to his personal residence, and also had debt on his personal residence rather than his income properties. The issue I had with this is that the interest deduction on the income properties was worth so much more than the personal interest deduction! He was able to refinance his loans to ultimately have his home paid off and not the rental. Since you’re potentially buying the new rental I suggest financing all of that and pay down that mortgage (maybe)! Please note this depends on your tax bracket because the losses on the rentals could get held up in passive losses, which might not be ideal for various reasons. Also, investment versus personal loans have some other considerations but you’re smart and will rock it out! Good luck with the rest of your journey and thank you for sharing.

  28. Lauren
    August 5, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Clay, I have some advice for you. Become a room parent for your kids and volunteer for the shows and parties, PTA, etc. The return on education for your kids will be immense. You can contrast that with the return on working your job and getting a pay check. If you have kids, being involved is the single best way to get them the best education possible. (In addition to helping them with their homework).

    From an aspiring FI teacher,

  29. Sid
    August 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Hey there – been reading this site for a few months and have quickly become absolved in its ideas and teachings. Thanks!

    Late last year (actually in April 2015) I opened a Roth IRA and maxed it out for 2014 with money from my savings. This year I am making steady contributions for 2015 (not ready to front-load). Reading about your strategies, I see that you advise having a traditional IRA for aspiring early retirees to then set up a conversion later. Should I max out my Roth IRA for 2015 and then open a traditional IRA for 2016 and then begin contributing to that. I currently just started out in my field and so I assume I am at the lowest tax bracket that I’ll be at until I retire. thanks for any advise!

    • Edifi
      August 12, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Howdy, Sid,
      If you plan on retiring at a low enough income level to make the article work for you as described, don’t wait! The contribution limit is the total combined for both accounts. If you haven’t maxed out your 2015 Roth, you can open a traditional and contribute whatever else you can up to the limit. Every dollar you add to the traditional reduces your “adjusted gross income” down, saving you taxes!

  30. Roger
    August 14, 2015 at 11:43 am

    It’s so great to see stories like this. Clay, you seem like a genuinely awesome guy and a great father. No advice for you or anything, I just wanted to thank you for writing this and adding some positivity to the world!

  31. DP
    August 18, 2015 at 9:40 am

    “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” I just wrote a post about this entire idea and how you need to revise your goals. I have the same fear of retiring and then feeling empty, since so much of my life is consumed with chasing the financial independence dream. What do you do after you reach it? How do you fill that void?

    Anyway, this is a truly inspiring story. Thank you for sharing.


  32. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar
    August 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    “Early-retired and with children? I’d love to hear how the heck you do it.”

    I want this to be me. We’re on target for retirement at 40 (I’m 29 now). We an almost 3 year old and another is due in the next few weeks.

    We save 50%+ of our income and I re-sell on eBay for house repairs. I buy as muycch as I can from garage sales. We got TONS of clothes for my daughter (literally 3 huge plastic tubs of 3T and 4T clothes) which will also be used by daughter #2. I don’t think that poor girl is going to get anything new.

    Re-selling on eBay lets me get a lot of other things done or saved for while still saving big chunks of our income. It definitely helps having no student loans and a wife who’s income is only going to go up (just finished a JD/PhD program). We only have the house mortgage right now.

  33. Ginger
    August 31, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I love how you turned getting laid off from work into something more positive. Most speed bumps are usually hidden opportunities. You were able to move into a better with great schools and get a better job. Although the journey to financial independence wasn’t easy, your path gives others in similar seemingly difficult situations hope!

  34. EL
    September 25, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I think if your almost close to FI, but feel a bit unsure about leaving, stay until you can feel more at ease. If you can in that mean time save up for another investment property and pay a big chunk of it off why not. Another thing you can save up for is a small fund for future used cars for the little ones, since you have the opportunity now with the great income.

  35. Laura Beth
    November 22, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I loved reading your story and was deeply inspired by it. What a lot to overcome. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for you. But it sounds like you have done everything you needed to do to reach financial independence. I wish you the best!

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