How I Got Here

This blog will start out as a ramble, as I’m known to do, and later I will parse it out and continue to add to it. For now though it’s more important to show a bias for action over one of planning.

In the photo you will see me on the left, fearing for my life while my husband Brian is having the time of his. This generally explains our relationship and my outlook on life, thankfully over the years he has balanced me out – a lot [and I love him for it, although he said I now have a stick pulled out of my ass, but still…]. For me, I’ve had a constant fear of death since my early years – yup, even typing on a keyboard I could be electrocuted… If you know me – this isn’t a surprise to you. If you don’t know me, it just means I’m extra cautious and calculated most of the time, which has helped me to get to where I am.

Speaking of which, it’s official! As of July 4th, 2018 [and the birth of this blog] I have experienced my own personal independence day!  {THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE THAT KEEP US SAFE AND FREE} To me, independence means that I now have the freedom from NEEDING to sell my time or do what others want me to do. Instead, it’s now about what I want to do and what I find enjoyable, rewarding, and exciting, regardless of money (more to come on those endeavors). Not that my job of 14 years for a major marketing company was bad, but spending a 1/3 of your life in the same place – takes a toll but I wish my co-workers and my company all the best. You never know, we may meet again (particularly if you vacation on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise ship, keep an eye out for us and say hello).

Getting to financial independence has taken a long time and lots of planning and discipline. Ever since I was a teenager I have vivid memories of 2 immigrant family members in the early to mid 1900’s who lived the American dream, saved, retired normally, then died abruptly and sometimes horribly. Hmm, guess that’s where my fear of death is from, interesting….

Anyway, the fruits of my planning to become financially independent happened much sooner than I ever could have imagined – though there are many people far younger who have done the same (a personal favorite is,, and the grand daddy of them all Mr. Money Mustache). Honestly though, Benjamin Franklin had it right long ago and laid it out plainly with the power of compound interest, plus tax advantaged vehicles the IRS provides like the 401K and Roth IRA that I maxed out early and consistently throughout my career [not just matching funds]. Not to mention buying a home, living in it (with a renter roommate for a few years), and then later renting it out fully and letting the renters pay the mortgage, even with the pesky Real Estate Market crash. Fast forward 15 years and poof – steady stream of income and no mortgage.

Honestly though, it was only about 5 years ago when I really began to realize the potential of being financially independent far far far earlier than I had ever imagined. This blog will explore my journey to this point – and into the future. Truth be told, I’m creating this quickly for my co-workers that I’m leaving behind when I send my good bye email (particularly the younger crowd who have time on their side), wishing them well, and inviting them to come back to the site to learn more as I share my knowledge.

Speaking of which, the only reason this site came into being was that as I was leaving my career of 20 years, people kept asking me over and over how the heck I was able to ‘retire’ so early and what was I going to do next? Many of those folks (reading this blog) said, “You know, you should really write about this stuff”…so here we are, the beginning!

When I stop to reflect on how I got to where I am, I find that for me it boils down to a few simple rules:

  1. Don’t get a divorce (or if you do, have a prenuptial agreement)
  2. Don’t have a kid ($250K to raise them and another $250K to send them to college)
  3. Don’t have a car (assumes you are a city dweller)
  4. Live below your means (have a beer taste on a champagne budget)
  5. Save 80% of your income (note that time is on your side when you invest)
  6. Repeat for 20 years, and you’re “done”, in my case, at 41

As a broader set of guidelines, the FIRE (Financially Independent, Retiring Early) Movement has two general rules of thumb to know if you are “done”.

  1. Make sure you have 25X your expenses saved and/or
  2. That you draw down 4% or preferably less of your financial assets annually (plus have lots of financial discipline and good finance habits, all of which I will opine on).

In terms of the formula above, I’ve yet to find a person that agrees with me [though none of them are retired], most of the folks are like ‘yup, broke several of those rules already’ or ‘that’s too austere’ and that’s fine, too each his/her own. There are MANY people in the FIRE movement that all have different recipes for success, and there are folks that are fine retiring ‘normally’ when you are 60-70 something, but that’s not me.

In my case I chose to forgo the option of having a kid (but I have a niece and nephew, 2 cats, and love to travel far too much), not everyone is cool with that. I mean really – I like kids – I just can’t eat a whole one by myself (kidding – you know who you are). And with cats, they are great stress relievers (when they aren’t clawing or biting or ignoring you) and they come with a positive upside, you can leave them at home alone for a few days for quick trips without going to jail (assumes automatic food, automatic water, and several liter boxes), plus they die at age 18, don’t go to college and only cost <$2K/yr all in (including cat insurance which is surprisingly expensive, but that’s a different story).

I also used to have a car since I was 16 because I lived in the sticks of upstate New York along the Canadian Border of the St. Lawrence Seaway and it wasn’t until I realized as a Chicago urban dweller in 2012 that I had effectively stopped using the car for a couple years earlier. Which meant I was wasting money just paying insurance, parking rent, maintenance, tags and the like which was silly, so I sold it and haven’t looked back. Between Uber, lyft, Bird [my story to come], Lime, public bikes, metro, buses and god forbid taxis, who needs a car if you live in a city?

Ok, that’s a lot of rambling and I’ve not even talked about my tips and tricks about saving money, managing money, and side hustles that helped me get here and will keep me going.


My name is Chris (or Christopher, I tend to change it every decade or two) and I like to share knowledge. It doesn’t matter if it’s personal or professional, I am an educator a heart, one who likes to share what I know with others, and learn as I go. That is why I’ve put pen to paper on this site. I’ve shocked my friends, family, and co-workers with my ability to retire at age 41. But really, I’m not special, there’s an entire movement of people just like me, it’s called the FIRE Movement.

What I will endeavor to do with this site, (now that I have tons of free time), is to share how I got to where I am and learnings along the way. Many people know about various saving techniques, side hustles, hobbies that pay you, and how to make a buck, but this site is about what makes me tick and what resonates with me and what has worked for me. To be fair, some of the things I share are referral links where I may be compensated if you join – hey, free money for both off us, why not?


What’s to come

As I embark into retirement I anticipate life changes to happen, some of which I have planned, others that will probably surprise us. Once the core of this site is done with the static posting, I’ll move into the more frequent blog posting of my experiences as I try out retirement. I’ll blog from my …


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