Originally Posted by PJJ
How do you get to this point? I wish my husband could get there...
Luck. Being brought up "middle class" with all of the privileges that come with it. And being super frugal. We both put ourselves through college so we graduated and married with a ton on debt. We knew what we wanted right from the beginning. We wanted to work jobs we liked, with schedules we liked, retire early, and live comfortably. We did not know for sure if we wanted kids but we wanted one of us home at all times if we did. We wanted to be at a place (soon) where we could go and pursue whatever we wanted without much worry.
So we graduated and moved from the place we loved to get the "big time" jobs. We knew we would come back as soon as we could. That day came 18 months later. We both worked full time but lived in a tiny cheap apartment, kept driving the beaters we had while in school, skipped the fancy vacations, clothing, and restaurant meals. And put every single extra penny we had into our student loans. We paid off $50K+ in loans in 18 months. It was satisfying but not fun. It sucked to be the only ones we knew to still live like students after all of that hard work. But we knew it was temporary. We did really insane things like calculate who was going to have to drive further each day to decide who took which car (based on fuel economy). We packed lunch every single day. We shared showers
It seemed over the top, but we had a goal in mind.....get those loans paid off and save a modest down payment on a house. Which we did. As soon as we got to the goal, we quit our jobs and started looking for our dream life. That 18 months, we made $100K a year and lived off of $25K.
We moved back to a place with a very low cost of living. We bought a house and both worked full time at the beginning. Still squirreling away by sinking extra into our house payments and still driving those beaters
We maxed out our retirement input and remained mostly unfamiliar with the nice clothes, vacations, and restaurants. We kept our eyes open for opportunities. Finally, dh landed the first step of our goal. A small business. The "vehicle" to early retirement and income flexibility. He got interested in photography, got a camera, and jumped in. Now, 6 years later, it is half of our income. He has his own studio and is booked one year in advance for weddings. 12 weekends a year plus some side work keeps it going. Not to mention he LOVES it. It is not a chore.
Having that business has freed us up to do what we want. Dh quit his high-pressure engineering job and instead took a full (flex) time, full benefits, low pressure job with much (MUCH) lower pay, basically for the benefits. And I went to work very part time at a high-paying but no benefits college teaching job. Dh has worked his full time job to allow him to be home while I teach.
We are happy. But it has come at a price. All three pieces of our income are subject to risk. We *have* to have a big accessible savings account to weather "blips" in the plan. I have had to take part time jobs bartending and waitressing to keep us on track when things get slim. I do not "have to" but that is how we weather bad times without dipping into our retirement. And these are jobs I can do mostly outside of dd's awake time, minimizing the family impact.
And, as I have said before, we have been LUCKY and privileged. In a perfect world, everyone should be able to do this if they want.