In October of 2016, I talked with Omar about a daunting feat: to retire by 40.
When we first talked to him, here were his main concerns in his own words:
I think my wife and I could make for an interesting case study. We’re both 30 with aspirations of achieving very early financial independence/retirement by 40. Neither one of us are doctors/lawyers/engineers (I feel like all the high-earners typically are), and started at 22 out of college with a combined income of $47,000 per year (living right outside of NYC – yikes!).
My wife actually stepped away from her job at 24 to pursue an additional bachelor’s degree in an entirely different field (she had originally majored in dance and English, then went back to school for astrophysics … yes, you read that correctly) while I walked away from what I had envisioned my lifetime career being (working in the professional sports world) to pursue a job at a market research firm in sales.
We had somewhat of an epiphany last year after our first child was born that we really had seen our salaries/careers inflate without our lifestyle following behind (we’re currently making a combined income of $195,000 per year before bonuses). The epiphany moment occurred after an opportunity for a significant life change (moving to California, and a chance for a large pay bump for me but to be a single income household and have my wife stay home without baby) came and we passed on it. We determined that more money wouldn’t increase our level of happiness – but more time would.
After sitting down and attempting to learn as much as possible about investing, we fell into the blogosphere of the early retirement/financial independence world (I actually uncovered Pete through Stacking Benjamins which came via a Paula Pant recommendation). After consuming dozens of podcasts/blogs/personal finance books, we’ve worked pretty hard to optimize our finances as much as possible in the last year. A year ago I didn’t know the difference between a traditional 401K vs. a Roth 401k; fast forward a year and I can hold a pretty solid conversation regarding why I don’t believe in the advantages of a Roth 401k for someone pursuing early retirement (I’d rather execute a Roth IRA conversion ladder upon early retirement).
With all that being said, most of what I’ve learned is self-taught, and would be nice to get a second opinion and explore any angles I may have not thought about or left out. This could either be an interesting podcast for people who are good with their money but can see what possibilities are there if they strive to become great (worst case scenario here is I’m a few years off and 45 is more realistic). It could also be an awful podcast since Pete could crush my hopes and dreams or people would find a couple making nearly $200K a year and trying to retire by 40 unrelatable and downright obnoxious (actually, this pretty much describes how my wife would have felt 2 years ago … heck, she might even feel this way now!).
Almost a year later, he’s back to discuss his progress and his goals. Planning to still retire by 40, Omar (currently 31) has a little over $300,000 in investments and his big push for 2017 is to set aside $100,000. With medical bills, housing repairs and other unexpected life happenings in 2017, Omar is having to do a little investing re-evaluation to hit his $100k.