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I had Tanja Hester from Our Next Life on the show back in November 2017 for episode 133. Back then, Tanja was still an anonymous blogger who hadn’t yet quit her job yet to retire early with her husband. Well, a few months after we recorded that episode she left her job and has been officially retired ever since!
Not only that, she finally revealed her full name on her blog and the news literally went viral, being picked up by MarketWatch. Because of this, Tanja has had a very busy retired life, which includes speaking, writing for MarketWatch, and of course publishing her first book Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.
Since so much has happened with Tanja since that first episode, I wanted to have her back on the show to talk more about what life is like in early retirement, and how you can strategize to retire early too!
Retiring Early Isn’t About Opting Out
Planning to retire early doesn’t start with the number crunching (or at least it shouldn’t). You need to figure out the “Why” before the “How”. Most people just think retiring early is a way they can finally opt out of working, or subtract something from their life. Instead, you should think about it as a way to add more to your life.
As we discuss in this episode, most early retirees aren’t just chilling on a beach reading. That’s nice for a vacation, but that can get boring quickly if it’s your every day. Instead, think about what things you want to do now that you don’t have to focus all your time and energy on earning an income. Maybe it’s volunteering. Maybe it’s starting some new hobbies. Maybe it’s writing a book like Tanja.
No matter what it is, retiring early isn’t about opting out of work, it’s about opting into a life that’s more fulfilling and meaningful to you.
You Can Continue to Earn Money in Retirement
Another thing we discuss is the idea that by retiring, that doesn’t mean you have to stop earning money…or working for that matter. Early retirement or financial independence means you don’t have to work to earn an income anymore. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t if you want to.
From talking to so many early retirees on the podcast and in real life, all of them are working in some way. Usually not full-time, but they are definitely staying active and contributing to society in some way. And yes, this means they earn money. Earning money doesn’t negate the fact that they are financially independent or retired. It just means they have extra fun money to play with.
Follow Your Own Path
I see and hear so many conversations about F.I.R.E. (financial independence, retiring early), most of which are negative. Many people believe it’s a dangerous idea because most people will either run out of money or it’s just completely impossible because they aren’t high-income earners.
As Tanja mentions, early retirement isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Moreover, one person’s path to early retirement shouldn’t serve as a template you should try to mimic because it may not work for you. Personal finance is personal after all, so if early retirement is something you want to do, do your research, learn from other people’s journeys, then carve out your own path that’s unique to you.
Want to learn more about Tanja’s journey and her tips on how you can make a financially independent strategy, go buy her book! She literally just reached FI a year ago, she knows her stuff!
Buy a copy of Work Optional