BiggerPockets Money Podcast 175: Staying Flexible in Early Retirement with A Purple Life

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Last time we talked to Purple from A Purple Life, she told us about her plan to retire at the end of 2020. If you haven’t listened to that interview, you can listen to it here to get the full scoop on Purple’s journey from a $5,000 net worth to hundreds of thousands within only a few years.

Like many financially savvy early retirees, Purple put a lot of time into planning, saving, and investing her capital in order to retire in her early 30s. Well, she did it! As of October 2020, Purple is financially independent and retired! So, how’s it going so far with financial independence in Purple’s world?

Purple talks about her hobbies, interests, and most importantly, how the final month of her employment went with her former employer. She also gives some great insight on taking advantage of her employer’s health insurance for the last month of work, making sure that she was able to keep her quarterly bonus, and how she ended up breaking the news to her boss.

It’s all worked well for Purple, but she did have some big plans to cancel. Purple had lined up 4 months worth of travel that all had to be canceled when COVID-19 hit and shutdowns began. She would have been snorkeling in Australia and scootering in Thailand right now! Thankfully, Purple has been able to adapt and take advantage of this off time to assess her financial situation and what she wants out of early retirement.

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, show number 175, where we reconnect with A Purple Life and hear what she’s been up to since her early retirement.

Purple:
I do think that having this slower introduction, more like normal life introduction to retirement, has been really good. Because I think if I had done all that travel, I probably wouldn’t have even had a moment to reflect in anything. Instead, I’ve just been here staring at birds and thinking this whole time. So I feel like that’s allowed me to like, “Oh, what’s going on with my sleep? Let’s optimize that. How am I feeling? Am I eating well? What’s going on?” Instead of like, “Let’s get to the next flight. Let’s travel heck the next first class seat,” and all that kind of stuff.

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen, and with me as always is my plum co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
I love your two appropriate intros that you introduce with a plum.

Mindy:
Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else, to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe that financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you’re starting.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, I guess in non pandemic worlds, go on to make big time investments and assets like real estate or start your own business, we’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so that you can launch yourself towards your dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, I’m super excited for today’s episode. We are talking to A Purple Life and hearing her story of what she’s been up to since early retiring in October in the middle of a pandemic.

Scott:
Yeah, I mean, it was great. We had her on, on show episode 110, and she said, “I’m setting up early retirement.” She told us when she was going to do it. She did it in the middle of a pandemic, and it was great to see her follow through and then hear about the updates from that.

Mindy:
We first spoke with Purple back on episode 110 where she told us about her plans for early retirement, and also casually dropped that her single mom started late and still retired early. So in her family, it’s not really a novel concept. Actually, we loved her mother’s story so much that we brought her on the next episode, episode 111. So if you are listening to this and want to hear a late starter, still retired early episode, episode 111 is fabulous.
We recorded Purple’s episode before COVID shut down America and Purple still retired early despite a market crash, a global pandemic, and financial uncertainty in the world. So Purple, welcome back to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I’m super excited to talk to you and catch up with you.

Purple:
I’m so happy to be back. Hello.

Mindy:
Hello. For those of us listening who don’t follow your blog, and they should, when did you actually pull the plug and leave work?

Purple:
October 1st, 2020.

Mindy:
Ooh. What were the circumstances surrounding your exit?

Purple:
Oh boy. In the world, everything you just mentioned.

Mindy:
Well, like did you give a two-week notice? Did you give a longer notice? What did your manager say when you gave notice? All that stuff. Because I do follow your blog and I would like to know about that bonus too.

Purple:
Oh boy. I gave one-month notice. I do have a whole blog post about it called I QUIT in all caps, with quotes from my boss. But if I’m remembering correctly, he was basically just super nice about it. I did not actually say I was retiring, and actually, I think I also have a blog post about that. I think through blog posts, that’s how I express what I’m trying to figure out. But anyway, I just told them, with everything going on, I’m going to take some time off.
We were living in Seattle, my partner and I, and we were going to move to Georgia because that’s my home state, to be closer to family. So all that was true, but also I’m taking infinite time off. That was the unsaid part. But that’s how I did it. And then, the last month of work, during it, we were living in Airbnb. So we planned to be nomads after I retired. We had an apartment in Seattle until July, and then we lived in two monthly Airbnbs in different neighborhoods in Seattle.
Then after that flew to Georgia and I’ve been living here on and off since. We’ve taken a couple of trips elsewhere, but have mostly stayed here. That’s what happened with my retirement. The bonus part was actually a post retirement drama that I can get into if you want.

Scott:
Well, yeah. Let’s talk about the events leading up to the weeks and months leading up to the conversation with your boss, and then the specifics of that conversation with your boss. Then I’d love to hear about this bonus. I did not do enough preparation and I’m not aware of the bonus. I’m going to be learning this for the first time here.

Purple:
Sure. Actually, I have a bit of a problem live tweeting what’s happening in my life. So I literally live tweeted the day that I told my boss. That’s up there. I can send you guys a link if you want. It was mostly just gifts of Kermit freaking out, all this other stuff. Then I also live tweeted my last day in the office. But yeah, my boss was one of the main reasons that I stayed at my last job so long, between him being awesome and it being a remote position.
I was there almost four years, and my previous stints, the longest was less than two. So it was big. I wasn’t surprised that he was supportive. What I was surprised by was that he said that I’m welcome back in any capacity at any time if I ever want to make some money as a freelancer, contractor, whatever. And I was like, “Cool.”

Mindy:
I really like that and I want to focus on that for a minute because you said, “My boss was super nice about it.” I have quit jobs. I have quit jobs that I hate and I have quit jobs that I really like. It’s always nerve wracking to go into your boss because you don’t know how they’re going to react. You were giving a one-month notice. They could have said, “We hate you, get out now.” They didn’t and they were very nice about it. Ultimately, you have to be prepared for them to say that, “Oh, well you can just leave now. Okay, bye.”

Purple:
That was one of the reasons I gave notice at that time, because when we had talked a year ago, I was going to leave in September, actually. But some weird stuff was happening at my company. The people they were promoting were horrible. So I’m like, “This is starting to be a weird place.” My boss is a partner in the company, but he’s not the only one. So it was like, “They might just tell me to GTFO.” And if so, I want to make sure I have all of my investments that I wanted, the cash cushion I wanted, like I’m all set in case they do. But they didn’t.

Scott:
Just for folks who have not listened to episode 110, could you just give a very brief overview of your financial position that gave you the confidence to go into this conversation?

Purple:
Yes. When we last chatted, my goal was to have half a million dollars to retire. Background, that is just for me. I am not having kids. I have a partner, but we have completely separate finances. I am lucky that I don’t have to support my parents or anyone else. As Mindy mentioned, my mom retired at 55, so she’s good. That was the goal. But then, March happened and the market crash happened and everything else.
And so, I reassessed like, “Should I still go for this?” Because my portfolio, I’m a hundred percent in stocks. So my portfolio was cut by, what was it, 33% that month. But after looking over everything, I was like, “No, let’s still go for this. Let’s see what happens.” I had no idea that then the market would be like, “Yeah, we’re fine. Let’s go back up.” I’m like, “Wait, what’s happening?” It’s like, “Oh, let’s just keep going.”
And so, when I retired, I actually had not just the 500,000 period, I had 500,000 invested and 40,000 in cash. So the only thing I changed was I was originally going to have one year in cash to live off of, and then I was going to pull from my portfolio. But because I was looking at the uncertain world around us, I was like, “Let’s have two years in cash, and then hope that in two years we’ll have a vaccine.” Luckily that timeline was even shorter than expected.
But originally, I think we were throwing around two years to get it, not to mention distribute it. So yeah. I bumped that up, but I retired with more money than I expected.

Mindy:
Well, that’s awesome, and that’s one of the things that I hear from a lot of people who’ve retired, is that, “Oh, well, I thought it was going to have this, but it actually had a little bit more.” I love that you had cash in hand, and I love the two years. We spoke with Michael Kitces, Scott, and he didn’t like a two-year cash… Or maybe he did like… Oh man, I should have looked this up before-

Scott:
Two-year cash cushion is bad math, but it’s good early retirement.

Mindy:
Yeah. It’s-

Scott:
We see a lot of people doing that when they move into the early retirement space, in spite of the fact that, hey, it’s not the right way to optimize it according to the Kitces and Bill Bengens of the world. Does a heck of a lot for that confidence level and feeling really good about the decision.

Purple:
If I remember correctly, I think he was talking about having a large percentage of your overall portfolio in cash. But for me, it was in addition to, instead of on the sidelines not doing anything.

Scott:
Yep.

Mindy:
Yeah. And-

Scott:
That’s what we find, is most people, they don’t live just in the 4% rule, whatever their rule of thumb is. They’ve got the 4% rule and then the cash, or and then the rental property, and then this other income stream, or, “I’m going to be 4% and then have a pension.” And so, we find that in practice, a lot of people are more conservative and you’re, it sounds like, no exception to that.

Purple:
Yep. Very conservative over here, even though everyone’s calling me crazy.

Mindy:
Well, that is something to think about. I have always heard that if you want to spend… Well, okay, so you spend 20,000. If you want to spend 40,000, you have a million dollars. Then you have separate finances from your partner, so you are only considering yourself, which sounds… I didn’t mean to say it like that, but you’re only…

Scott:
Well, if she wants to spend more, then she can go back to work. She’s welcome back anytime.

Mindy:
I love that too. I wanted to point that out as well, is you didn’t burn bridges. If you’re thinking about retiring early, don’t burn the bridge. Telling your boss what you really think of them makes you feel good for one second and they will never hire you again. And every person who calls them up, they’re like, “Mm, I wouldn’t hire her.”

Scott:
If you’ve got that conversation coming with your boss, you should be leaving that job long before FI and working towards grinding it out the rest of the way to FI with the job you like, with the boss you like, like Purple did.

Mindy:
Yes. But also, if you are retiring from a job that you hate, don’t burn the bridge. If you’re quitting the job that you hate to find another job, don’t burn the bridge.

Scott:
Yeah.

Mindy:
Anyway. Okay. Let’s get back to your life. You gave your notice in September, fully prepared for them to say, “Leave now.” They didn’t say that. You made it to October. What does your last day look like?

Purple:
Oh boy, what did my last day look like? I’m pretty sure it was just finishing up emails, making sure everyone knew what they needed to do on my projects. And then I actually had a bi-virtual lunch with my boss where I accidentally let it slip that I was retiring. I’m very bad at still fire, apparently, and really the nail in the coffin there was that he wasn’t even surprised. I was like, “Maybe I should telling him about investing and index funds. I am not flying under the radar here.” So that was funny.
Then he had shared with me a couple of years before that he was like five years to retirement. So he was like, “Cool.” And I was like, “Yeah, you’re still three years away.” He’s like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “Let’s do this.” That was awesome. And then, at the end of the day, I had a virtual company meeting, everyone there, which was awkward, of course. They were like, “Oh, Purple, you’re coming back, right?” The CEO said that, I was like, “Ah, sweet to say, but no, unless something wild happens.” So yeah, that was my last day. Then I rode into the sunset.

Mindy:
And you went to Georgia?

Purple:
Yes. Currently here.

Mindy:
You have traveled the world since then. Your plans-

Purple:
I’ve traveled from my living room to my bedroom.

Mindy:
Your plans have changed a little bit, thanks to the pandemic. What do you spend your days doing?

Purple:
I had to write that down, actually, because I’m like, “What? It’s been four months. What have I been up to?” It’s been flying by and I still don’t have time to do everything that I want to in a day. And I was like, “How is this possible?” I have been sleeping, napping. I’ve gotten much better at sleeping. I used to suck at it. I have been reading like a wild woman. This year I have a goal of reading a non-fiction book a week, and so far I’m on track to do that.
I have gotten into the retiree approved activity of birdwatching, which has been fascinating. I can now identify most of the birds in our yard by either hearing their calls or seeing them. I got a bird feeder for Christmas, and before I got on with you all, I was just sitting outside watching them. A family of robins just trotted up to me, I was like, “Oh, I’m one of them now.” I’ve gotten into identifying trees, plants, other animals.
We were taking a mini vacation the other week and a coyote came into our backyard, I was like, “Oh my gosh. What is this?” There were deer that would come in too, so I was like, “The baby deer are in danger.” Anyway, nature is fascinating. But I’ve been getting into astronomy, just all these things that I was always curious about and was like, “Okay, I’m too tired,” or, “Oh, I can’t think about that right now.” And so, yeah, that’s just a little sample, but I’m busy.

Scott:
For these 50 non-fiction books, one a week or whatever, are those on these topics that you’re pursuing here, like astronomy and those types of things?

Purple:
Yes. The one I’m reading right now, it’s called The Thing With Feathers and it’s about birds and how they can figure everything out and see the world completely differently than we can. It’s weird.

Scott:
Yeah. This is one of the things that I’ve always philosophized about, is I move towards this fire journey with the intent to do what you’re doing. Now I find myself CEOing and the BiggerPockets and all that, so I don’t do any of that, those types of things, at least nowhere near the level you do probably. But I think it’s interesting because you’re now going to absorb a tremendous amount of information on a variety of these subjects.
That I think is really cool because you’re going to quickly become an expert, maybe top 1% or even better at these types of things accidentally. It’s just very interesting to see where that will lead and how that will benefit people in one way downstream, which I think is the cool thing about FI. Your story repeated across hundreds or thousands or millions of people, you’re going to create this weird world of crazy experts in all these subjects that wouldn’t otherwise go explored in the same way. So anyways, that’s just me going off on a little tangent. But I think it’s an interesting concept to take to its logical extreme.

Purple:
Yeah. We’ll see. Some people have suggested I join an Audubon bird society nearby, and I was like, “Okay, everyone calm down. Yeah. I just want to sit here and look at my birds. I don’t need to, I don’t know, virtually volunteer to take people on bird hikes or whatever it is it’s called, [inaudible 00:15:58] trips. Or my partner, he has gotten more into running lately. And so, when we get into something, we read all the books about it. He was talking about how someone was running across the entire US or something like that. And he’s like, “And you can come.”

Mindy:
That’s what I was thinking too.

Purple:
A real person. He was like, “You can come with me because, look, this book is about a guy who wanted to see every type of bird.”

Scott:
Did he start out in Georgia too?

Purple:
Probably. Anyway-

Scott:
Alabama.

Purple:
Anyway, he was going across the US to see all the birds. So he’s like, “You can do that while I run across the country.” I was like, “Once again, can we calm down for a sec? I just want to read a book. I don’t want to go on an adventure right now.”

Mindy:
Well, once you start traveling, I don’t know if the Audubon Society is just US-based or if it’s across the globe, but there are different birds everywhere. So that would be really cool to, “Oh, I got Georgia, now I’ve got to go someplace.” Robins are everywhere. I think they circle the globe. They’re probably an Antarctica.

Purple:
Probably.

Mindy:
And cardinals too. Cardinals are every place I’ve ever been. So it’s fun to see what’s there, “Oh, I recognize that sound.” Then like also, “Ooh, there’s a new bird. What is that sound?”

Purple:
Yeah, I’ve been tagging them on my Audubon app, like Pokemon. I’ve got to catch them all. Like when I went to Connecticut, I discovered that the chickadees I saw there look almost identical to the ones in Georgia, but they’re a different species. I’m forgetting the name, but here they’re Carolina chickadees, and other black cap chickadees in the North, and they don’t migrate. Who knew?

Mindy:
Boy, if I was the bird, I would be South always.

Scott:
Do you think about money at all anymore, or is that kind of like a-

Purple:
Oh boy.

Scott:
Yeah. How’s that working for you?

Mindy:
That’s a good question.

Purple:
I am waiting to worry about money. It hasn’t happened yet. And I think for a couple of reasons. One, I discovered in 2020 that not going anywhere, seeing people, or doing things, doesn’t cost a lot of money. I ended the year spending less than $16,000 total for myself, which is way lower than my retirement goal of 20,000. Also, I am a retirement failure. The IRP is coming after me because I made a whole 2K last year in my own endeavors. So it’s over.

Mindy:
So you can reach Purple life and tell her all about her terribleness at apurplelife.com.

Purple:
Yeah. Also, obviously the market has been doing ridiculous things despite what’s happening in the world. So as of, I think, yesterday, I have 630 plus thousand dollars, and then still have almost two years of that cash cushion because I spent so little last year. We’ve been booking our travel after we leave Georgia in a couple of months. And so, I have like four months of Airbnbs on my credit card. I’m just throwing thousands left and right and I’m like, “Whatever.” So yeah, I haven’t worried about it yet. I’m waiting to. I assume I will at some point.

Scott:
Mr. Money Mustache has a good article on this. I forget the name of it. I’m pulling it out from years ago, but he described the situation that you’re in as, hey, money is like water. It’s very, very important, and you spend all day gathering it if it’s difficult to access. But then once you have enough, you just turn on the faucet and get some, and it’s kind of boring. You don’t really think about it and whatever.
It sounds like you’re in that kind of world with money right now, where you’ve got a nice big pool of it. If you need more, you just turn on the tap a little bit, get a little bit more out of your net worth, and then move on.

Purple:
Yeah. I haven’t been thinking about it. Just even besides the Airbnbs, I’ve been ordering way more takeout and obviously tipping even more generously than usual, and giving more and all these things, that I was like… I used to look at my budget, but now I’m just like, “It’ll be fine.”

Mindy:
Okay. Well, let’s look at your money and where it’s sitting. You said you’re 100% in stocks. Are you 100% in index funds? Is it pre-tax, post-tax, a mix of both? Where’s your money at

Purple:
All my money is straight up in index funds, Vanguard Total Stock Market index fund, VTSAX. It’s about half in taxable and half in tax advantage accounts.

Mindy:
Now that you don’t have any income, are you doing any sort of Roth conversion ladder?

Purple:
That is my plan for this year, since last year I still had an income. But we’ll see how much extra money I make and that will determine how much I can convert. So we’ll see about that.

Mindy:
Okay, because that I think is very interesting. I’m actually really hoping that my employer will start offering a deferred compensation plan so I can start converting, and then I can avoid some of these taxes. I’m looking way down the road at RMDs and I don’t want… It’s the best problem to have. It sounds even stupid saying it. But right now I have this much, and you can reasonably assume that if you continue in this index fund thing, then you can double your money every seven or eight years.
If it doubles, and doubles, and doubles, and doubles, and doubles, by the time I have to do RMDs, I might be looking at some significant RMDs. Again, great problem to have. Oh, poor you. But if I can avoid that, I would rather. The conversion is something I have to look into. Maybe we’ll get somebody on the show who can talk about the concept of converting and things to think about it down the road, because… Anyway, sorry, that derailed the conversation.

Scott:
No, I think it’s a great point. I mean you, even though you have what I think a lot of people would call lean FI, it’s clearly a big surplus for you, though, with the circumstance that you have right now. You still are probably overburdened in your tax advantaged accounts, relative to when you’ll need to draw them down. I’m sure that that is a concept, but I also feel like you have so many hedges against that, that in practice, that will never become a problem because you will, internet retirement police, accidentally make money over the next couple of years.
And you’ve got that two-year cash cushion, and the taxable accounts probably will outperform what your conservative estimates are. But have you thought about that or what is your strategy around those?

Purple:
Yeah. I’ve thought about it and my plan was to live off of my taxable accounts. Once I retired, I changed my taxable dividends from being reinvested to being deposited in my checking account, which was another weird thing. It’s like, “Where’d all this money come from? I’m not working. That’s weird.” Then I’m planning, after my cash cushion runs out, to withdrawal annually. I’ve projected out how long that would take me to draw it all down.
I think it was, even if the market doesn’t do wildly good, like 15 years. And so, regardless, I will start converting and using a Roth IRA conversion ladder. Even if I have to pay a little taxes, woe is me, once again, just so I can then start to pull from the Roth as well down the line.

Scott:
That’s in a no-income environment, right?

Purple:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott:
That won’t happen, even though it’s a plan.

Purple:
Well, I mean, no income, but $2,000 just kicked me out of retirement. Don’t you know?

Mindy:
What is that, one-eighth of your spending? That’s not small potatoes.

Purple:
True.

Mindy:
That’s more than a month of your spending. We briefly touched on the bonus, but we didn’t actually discuss the bonus.

Purple:
Oh yeah, we got distracted.

Mindy:
You had said that you discovered after you left your company, that you were entitled to a bonus or had earned a bonus in some way, but you weren’t sure how much of it would actually show up. Let’s talk about that because that’s something to think about. Just because you don’t work there anymore, Scott, how does that work as a CEO? If I don’t work there anymore, but I earned a bonus, do I get it?

Scott:
Usually, the bonus, the rules of that are baked into your… They’re communicated in advance. For example, we pay out the bonus at the end of January, the annual bonus, at the end of January and the calendar year. And so, you must be employed at the time that the bonus is paid out in order to receive the bonus. In practical sense, maybe if someone’s like leaving like a day or two before after, or a very short period of time after that, that that can be worked out.
But in general, that you have to be employed through that bonus unless your employer has a different relationship or whatever. If the employer is sitting there like, “Hmm, we really want you to come back when you…” If there’s a odds at chance that you get bored in your early retirement, maybe they’re going to have a different math on that. But I don’t know.

Mindy:
Okay. Purple, how did your math work?

Purple:
My old job, about $15,000 of my salary, and I was making almost 115 when I left, is set up in quarterly bonuses that they give out. 10K of it is guaranteed and the 5K is based on performance or so they say, which I’ll get into that. Well, I had two reasons why I changed my quit date to October 1st instead of September, like I originally planned, one was so I would get the bonus that is for Q3 because I would have worked through all of it.
Then the other reason was so that I would have health insurance through all of October even if I only worked one day. I expected that bonus because I have read all of the HR materials that they’ve ever given us, and it does not mention anywhere that you have to be employed when they pay it out. I saw that I only got my regular paycheck after I’d left. And so I reached out to our accounting department. I was like, “Hey, didn’t get my bonus. What’s going on?”
Then they responded saying, “Oh, well, you have to be employed, not even when we pay out the bonus necessarily, but when we talk about paying out the bonus, which is not a date that is shared with us at all. I was like, “Well, that’s weird and doesn’t sound right, so hmm.” We were going back and forth about it and then I was just like, “You know what, I’m just going to reach out to my boss.” I was like, “Hey, this is what’s happening. This is weird. It doesn’t say that anywhere. So can you let me know what’s up?”
Apparently, he went to bat for me. After a lot more back and forths, I got my bonus and I walked away. But then I was also discussing on Twitter with people like, “Is this normal? What’s going on?” I did hear a lot of rules like that, but that they actually have to be laid out. And if they’re not, a few lawyers on Twitter were like, “You can sue them if you want.”

Scott:
Yeah, I think if the company doesn’t lay them out specifically like that, you’re looking at a murky ground there where you might win, you might lose, it might be messy, whatever. I think that it’s great that your manager went to bat for you. I just think that’s not a good plan for some would follow in that direction. I think you’re leaving a lot up to chance there.
Sure, you might have been able to sue them. That might have cost you more in time and energy than the bonus was worth at the end of the day. And so, just be-

Purple:
Maybe. I just didn’t even know it was an option.

Scott:
If it’s not in writing and your company is not doing that, maybe ask for it in writing from somebody like, “When will it be paid out? What are the rules governing that?” if you’re doing that, because maybe small company, you’re not having some of those things fully baked out there. If it’s a large company, hopefully they’ll have those systems in place.

Mindy:
Well, that’s why we bring Purple back to talk about these things because I would not have known about that. I didn’t even really remember that we get bonuses in the end of January, because I’m not leaving and they won’t ever fire me because I’m perfect. So I haven’t read those things, but that is a really important thing to think about. And you might not know that if you’re not aware of that.
So if you are thinking about retiring and your bonus is connected to a certain timeframe, make sure you stay past the timeframe. Also, I wanted to point out your health insurance tip because you just casually mention these things and I’m like, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.” By having employment on October 1st, you now have insurance through the end of October. Why leave on September 30th and instantly start paying boatloads of money for insurance when you can leave on October 1st, one more day, and then you have the insurance for one more month?

Scott:
[inaudible 00:28:45]. What are you doing for health insurance now?

Purple:
Oh boy. Original plan, like Mindy mentioned, I was going to be jet setting around the world. I was going to get expat insurance through IMG Global, which is awesome. It covers preventative care. It’s relatively cheap. They have lots of different plans, depending on how much you want them to cover, the countries you want them to cover. And I was going to say, “Cover the whole world,” which I mean everywhere. But America basically is less expensive healthcare-wise and usually has better outcomes. So, great.
Then since I was going to be outside of the US, it’s relatively inexpensive for me to pay for it, the global plan. However, it requires that you’re outside the US for six months of the year, which no one will let me live or wants me in their country, understandably. So I needed a new plan. My current stopgap plan is actually World Nomads travel insurance because it does cover health as well as trip cancellations. Not that I’m going on trips, but all of that stuff.
But it has a little weird caveat that you also need to have primary state insurance, which I am a resident of Washington, even though I’m currently living in Georgia. So I have Washington State insurance, which I can’t use because I’m across state lines. But that was a requirement to get World Nomads. That’s what I’m doing for now. And then once it’s safe to travel, I’m out of here, expat insurance all the way.

Scott:
I’m hearing two things. One is that this is going to vary so dramatically, what the right health care choice is, based on your personal situation. And when you’re nearing the point of moving into FI, you need to do a tremendous amount of research and dive down the rabbit hole and really understand it. We’ve tried to tackle this subject on a prior podcast and there is no one right answer. It’s just a matter of understanding this language and all the acronyms you just dropped for whatever your situation is with health insurance.
Then secondly, how ridiculous… My dad doesn’t like when I use the word ridiculous too often, but I’m using it here. How ridiculous is it that if you are a single person with no kids, or a couple with no kids, that it is probably just way better, and way cheaper, and way easier to be FI, traveling the world a country at a time, three months, four months in a row, and getting this international insurance, than it is to live in the US and cover your healthcare costs. That’s just the reality of it after COVID. That’s the move, it seems, for a lot of folks.

Purple:
Yeah. And it is ridiculous, so I back you up on that.

Mindy:
What I got out of your comment is the original plan was this. I have not come across too many people who had their original plan and that’s exactly how life worked out, for anything, but especially for early retirement. And I just wanted to highlight that again and say, be fluid in your expectations, because it will be a lot different than what you felt like it was.
My husband is retired, retired, and he works on the house all day. His expectations of what retirement were going to be, was going to be, is a bit different than the reality. What’s the biggest change, I mean, besides COVID… That doesn’t count. But what’s the biggest, “Oh, I thought it was going to be this,” but it was actually that? Or does COVID just throw a big monkey wrench in your plans completely?

Purple:
Yeah, I think it really was COVID-specific because I had four months of international travel plan, like fully booked out. It was a mess to get that money and credits and all that stuff back. But yeah, I was going to fly out of Seattle, head to the Great Barrier Reef, hang around Australia for a month, and New Zealand for a month. Then I was going to fly to Argentina for a month. Right now I was supposed to be in Thailand chilling on a beach.
Obviously, none of that happened. But yeah, I planned to have a jet setting retirement where I’m going between higher cost of living and lower cost of living places with beaches being my constant. And instead I’m living in a tiny house in Georgia. So not at all as planned, but I’m trying to find all the silver linings. I do think that having this slower introduction, more normal life introduction to retirement has been really good, because I think if I had done all that travel, I probably wouldn’t have even had a moment to reflect on anything.
Instead, I’ve just been here staring at birds and thinking this whole time. So I feel like that’s allowed me to like, “Oh, what’s going on with my sleep? Let’s optimize that. How am I feeling? Am I eating well? What’s going on?” Instead of like, “Let’s get to the next flight. Let’s travel heck the next first class seat,” and all that kind of stuff.

Mindy:
You said that your sleeping is better. Who was it, stopped ironing shirts, I think, also said that his sleep was much better after he retired. I’m a little jealous. My sleep is terrible. But I’ve always had terrible sleep. I want to ask about your partner and your relationship after you have left, because he still works, right?

Purple:
Yep.

Mindy:
Okay. That was the same with my relationship. He retired and I still work, and our relationship changed a little bit. Now he’s got time to look at around the house, he’s like, “Why is this such a mess? I’m like, “You know what? You don’t have a job. I’ve got two kids and a job. Pick stuff up. They ruin everything.” So how has your relationship changed, or has it changed at all since he still works but you don’t.

Purple:
Hilariously, it has not changed, but that’s because he took almost all of 2019 off. So we were in the reverse situation. He was trying to chill and not look for a job for most of that. So we had the experience of one of us not working. Also, previously, I’ve had bouts of unemployment after I quit, or was laid off, or whatever happened with all my many jobs. We’ve been in that situation before, so it wasn’t that weird.
What is weird is that one of the reasons we moved to Georgia, I mentioned is to be near family. And so, we’re actually living on the land of one of his brothers. That’s been interesting because we have like a commune situation going, like, “Meet me by the bonfire. Let’s hang out.” So that’s been different, just to be like, “Okay, I want to sure I’m pulling my weight in the commune, and how do I do this if they’re cooking for me?”
So I’ll make sure I do the dishes or whatever. It’s just making sure that, yeah, I am sitting in the backyard watching birds all day while you all are working, but I want to make sure that this is fair. That’s been the adjustment instead of with my partner necessarily.

Mindy:
Okay. Do you have any plans to go back to work? Do you miss it? I have to ask.

Purple:
Sorry, absolutely not. I’m open to going back to work because obviously retiring at 30 is a risk. I don’t know what the future brings. I didn’t know what 2020 would bring, obviously. So if I need to, I’ll totally make some money. That’s fine. But no, I do not miss it at all.

Mindy:
Okay. Let’s talk about those dividends that you casually mentioned are no longer being reinvested, but are instead going into your checkbook. What sort of funds are we talking about? Like do you have a $1.50 that’s coming back or do you have like $50,000 coming back? What is this?

Purple:
In December, when quarterly dividends were paid out. I got about $2,000 in my checking account that just was plopped in there. So I’m only taking out, like I mentioned, taxable dividends, obviously. But yeah, it’s a good chunk of change that should be coming at me quarterly.

Mindy:
Okay. Well, hey, in your financial situation, that is a good chunk of change. I mean, that’s what, two thirds of… No, half because you’re doing 20,000. So that’s 50% of your retirement is funded automatically. Now your $40,000 is four years instead of two.

Purple:
Yeah. We’ll see how long it lasts, especially if I keep making money. And then, obviously, I don’t assume that dividends will stay where they are either. They could get cut a little bit or all by the bigger tech companies as they want to do. But yeah, it’s going pretty well so far.

Mindy:
When do you have your first trip planned?

Purple:
I don’t. Domestically-

Mindy:
I should [crosstalk 00:37:46] sorry.

Purple:
We are leaving Georgia at the end of April, but that’s just to go North to Maine. So yeah, after canceling all those months of travel, I still have whiplash from it. So I’m not booking anything internationally until we have approval to go somewhere.

Mindy:
I’m assuming that you’re like me, last on the list to get the vaccine.

Purple:
Oh yeah. Of course.

Mindy:
Okay. Are you driving up to Maine, like meandering up there?

Purple:
So funny. I mentioned I went up to Connecticut and saw those chickadees. I drove up with my mom in one day, and then on the way back, I actually took a sleeper car by myself, which was really interesting.

Mindy:
Did you sleep in that sleeper car?

Purple:
I did.

Mindy:
Mine has square wheels.

Purple:
Oh no. No, I liked it a little rocking back and forth. It was comfy. Then I was like, “Okay, maybe we should do the same thing to go up there. What’s the safest way to do this?” Blah, blah, blah. I was thinking of us getting a sleeper car and then maybe renting a car to get all the way up. Then I weighed it with flights, basically, because that would take over a day to do full day of travel. It was looking like it was going to cost like a thousand bucks.
And so, I was looking at the risks associated with plane travel. I actually wasn’t worried, based on what experts are saying about the possibility of getting COVID on the plane. It was more the Atlanta airport because it’s the busiest airport in the world. When I went there in September, I was not impressed by what I saw. As in, there were way too many people, no room to social distance, and mask wearing was bad. So that was my concern, waiting around in the airport.
But we talked about it. This is basically is the end of April, so it’s May. I was like, “Okay, if we keep going the vaccines at this level, and now that we have a federal mandate to actually require masks and building federal buildings like airports, I think I feel more comfortable. So yeah, we’re biting the bullet. We’re flying. Maine requires that when you get there, you get a test immediately and quarantine until you get the results. So we’re doing all of that and that’s our approach.

Mindy:
Okay. Well, that sounds like a lot of fun. You said it was going to be a day’s travel. I’m like, “What else do you have to do?” This is your slow life now. You don’t have to go, go, go. But you lost me at a thousand dollars because that is a lot of money to go from Georgia to Maine.

Purple:
Yeah, and the flight is like 200 each, so yeah. And it’s two hours versus 24 hours of travel.

Mindy:
Yeah. I went on a 36-hour train ride and it ended up being like a 40-hour train ride because the commuter rails are on the freight train tracks and the freight trains have precedence. Purple, your retirement mirrors my husband’s retirement in that he gave his notice, he quit his job. And then two weeks later he got wind from his former coworkers that the entire project had been canceled.
And so, he left on his own terms and I’m really glad he left and then it was canceled, as opposed to the other way around. Anything happening at your old company?

Purple:
Of course. I left October 1st and I still have friends at the company. We talk like every other week, at least. I was having one of our regular video chats and she mentioned to me that our company was actually no more. It had been acquired by a much larger, in my opinion, sketchier company. All the employees were told this on January 6th, of all days, which if there’s a day to postpone a meeting, I’m going to say that’s it.

Mindy:
Oh, yeah. That was the day.

Purple:
It was. So not just the country up in arms, but, oh, you might not have a job as well. Good luck. Oh my gosh. So yeah, I was freaking out because there was no indication of that at all. I know that they’re not allowed to tell us specifically for insider trading reasons and whatever else. But more and more kept coming out like, “Oh, we’re asking very normal questions like, is our bonus structure the same?” Because that’s like 10% of most people’s salaries.
Are the PTO days that we were told we could roll over still accurate now that we’re part of a different company suddenly? And they were like, “I don’t know, we’ll look into it.” They had apparently been negotiating about this for a year and still didn’t have the basic questions answered. I continued talking to my friends and then actually more ridiculous things came out such as that the founder apparently sold the company without telling the other partners, including my boss.
So they were also surprised and shocked by this news, which was good because I was literally going to call my boss and yell at him. Knowing that he was not aware of that was good, but also I was just like, “Oh my gosh.” Not just all my friends, the employees, but actual partners in this company are now like, “This company doesn’t exist. You can go work for this other company, and that’s it.” So yeah, my wonderful little place that I built with my great boss and my remote work and all that stuff is no more.

Scott:
This is why when you hear people like, “Oh, I love my job. I’ll never fight.” Come on, things can change in five years. My opinion is that you should be working towards FI no matter how great your current circumstances are, because circumstances change over time and this kind of stuff happens. It’s not your company. It’s the founder’s company. And the founder had every right to do that and sell the company, and that can flip a switch. Everything can change for you and your colleagues with that. And so I think that’s a great lesson learned.

Mindy:
Yeah. If my question sounded just a teeny bit leading, it’s because Purple wrote an article last week that said, “Why Pursue Financial Independence? Because Nothing Lasts Forever, and talked about this big change at the company. My sister’s a teacher. She worked for a principal that she loved. Fabulous leader, wonderful, backed her up, blah, blah, blah. He retired. Somebody else came in and they don’t have the same relationship. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
She called me up and said, “Now I get it. Now I understand all of those terrible jobs you had and you were complaining about your boss. Now I understand why you don’t spend every dime that comes in.” Because she’s a teacher and she’s got a great pension. She’s got money saved for retirement, but she doesn’t have a ton because she’s a teacher and they don’t make a lot of money.

Purple:
Yeah. Nothing lasts forever, for sure. This was the best company I’ve ever worked for. So I could have just been like, “Yeah, so I’m going to keep working here and it’s going to be great.” But not knowing four months after I could have pulled the trigger, if I hadn’t, then I might have been out of a job anyway. They still don’t know who’s getting laid off or who has to now work under this new company, which is not out of Seattle like we were, but out of Boston. Who knows what’s going on?

Mindy:
Yeah. That is really scary. There you go. Why pursue financial independence? Because nothing lasts forever.

Scott:
If you spend all you earn, and your colleagues who spent all they earn and don’t have the buffers or the financial flexibility you do, they’re completely at the mercy of those decisions and not their bosses, but the acquirers, in terms of how that’s going to play out. And so, they’re either going to have to figure out a new employment situation or take it. That’s what we need to work for in terms of…
By you sharing your story and us doing this money show every week, hopefully we’re able to put more and more people in a position where, no, they’ve got the control of the situation the way that you do.

Mindy:
Exactly. Purple, thank you so much for making time out of your busy nap schedule, and bird listening schedule, and birdwatching schedule to come in and catch us up on what’s going on because I think it’s really helpful. There’s not a lot of people who are post early retirement, who then come back and talk about it. It’s mostly just people who are like, “Yeah, I’m working on it.” But the reality can be very different than what you were thinking about.
I mean, clearly for you, with circumstances outside of your control, but being prepared is the best… What is it? The great offense is the best defense? Did I mess that up? A good defense is the best offense? Which way is… I don’t know. Clearly, I’m a sports person.

Scott:
I [crosstalk 00:46:38].

Mindy:
But I do thank you so much for coming back on today because this was a lot of fun. I think it is very important to share with people what actually happens in real life instead of just… Like the real world. This is when people stop being polite and start being real. This is when people stop-

Purple:
So true.

Mindy:
… hoping for what’s going to happen and start being real about what’s actually happening. Okay. Cool. Well, go enjoy your beautiful Georgia day. Do you have a beautiful Georgia day today?

Purple:
I do. Going to go watch some more birds.

Mindy:
Watch the birds. Send me some pictures of these cap chickadees.

Purple:
Okay. Thanks for having me, you all.

Mindy:
Awesome. Thank you.

Scott:
Yeah, thanks for coming back.

Mindy:
Thank you for coming back.

Purple:
Of course.

Mindy:
Okay. We’ll talk to you soon.

Purple:
All right. Bye.

Mindy:
Bye.

Scott:
Bye.

Mindy:
Okay. That was A Purple Life. That was fun to catch up with her. I’m super excited for her, and hopefully her travel plans will come to fruition soon. Scott, what did you think of the show?

Scott:
I think it’s just great to hear her story. I mean, like I guess, mentioned in the intro, she had a plan. She told us she was going to do the plan. She did it. This is a real thing that people are doing right now all over the world, all over the country. I think it’s accelerating. There’s still a relatively small number of people who have achieved this, especially at early in life. But it’s growing, and it’s possible, and it’s more and more accessible, I think.
It’s just funny because it seems like it’s almost relatively… Not relatively easy. Too easy is too strong as an adjective, but achievable with a full-time job. But then all these things come into play that make the world travel a more viable option. I think was an interesting thing with like the health insurance. It’s just easier to travel the world and self-finance retirement in some cases than it is to sit in one place. So I think it’s interesting to hear that and it was great to catch up with Purple.

Mindy:
I really liked, and we didn’t talk about this during the episode, but I liked how she thought she needed 500 and now she’s got 630 as of yesterday. What I have seen in my own experiences and other people that I talk to is you think you’re going to retire with this money, and then you have a couple of years of cash. You have a year of cash, and then at the end of the year of cash, you still have more money. You don’t need to dip into the cash or you don’t need to dip in as much to your savings or your savings has grown so much that you have more than you need.
It just seems that, of course, past performance is not indicative of future gain, but it just seems that keeping your money in index funds is a smart, solid way to continue to pursue financial independence. I haven’t heard anybody yet that said, “You know what? I retired. I had my money in my account and I ran out.”

Scott:
Yeah. I mean, it’s a really aggressive approach. It’s what I do with all of my… I mean, I have real estate stocks and then a couple of other interests. But my stocks are almost all in index funds. It is a really aggressive asset allocation. In my experience, in my investing career, I have not experienced a prolonged investment crash. I started investing after the 2008 recession, so I get it that there’s some experiences that I haven’t had with that. But it does seem like a good long-term play.
I do want to point out, though, that for discussion purposes, that she was second guessing some things in the early part of the pandemic for a second there, and I’d be interested to see if the math would have changed if the market had stayed down for several months, rather than giving that quick V-shaped recovery within a few weeks of the sharp drop right after the pandemic, which by the way, Mindy, I think you called it exactly, in jest, that drop. Is that right?

Mindy:
I did.

Scott:
What was that episode?

Mindy:
I did.

Scott:
You said-

Mindy:
I believe it was episode 70 with J Scott. I called it. I missed it one day, but also there was a leap year that year. So I was pretty spot on if we didn’t have leap year. I called that the market would crash on March 14th and it actually did it on the 13th.

Scott:
Oh, darn. Yeah, that-

Mindy:
So-

Scott:
Yeah. But you were like, “It could crash a tremendous amount on Monday,” or whatever, and then it crashes. Yeah. Go back and listen to episode 70 if you want to hear Mindy’s profit-

Mindy:
Prophetic perfect prediction.

Scott:
Prophetic.

Mindy:
… almost perfect prediction. Also, it’s just a really good episode. J Scott is wonderful. Okay, Scott, should we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
From episode 175 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, he is Scott Trench, I am Mindy Jensen saying see you later, aggregator.

 

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In This Episode We Cover

  • The importance of planning for early retirement even if you love your job
  • Having a lean FI number and low monthly expense so you can live comfortably in retirement
  • How long a cash cushion should last you when you decide to retire
  • Taxable vs. Non-taxable retirement accounts (and which to leverage)
  • Ending your employment in a respectful and polite way
  • Being flexible with your retirement plans
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Book Mentioned in the Show

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