Shit Just Got Real… Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018!

Shit Just Got Real... Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018!So things just got interesting here in the R2R household.  We’ve decided to move our early retirement date up to be 12/31/18.

Yeah, that’s right – just over six months from now.  Crazy, right?

Then to top it off, we decided to push up our move to Panama as well.  We’ll now be starting that adventure about a year from now in the summer of 2019.

Making the decision to move up our early retirement date isn’t a decision we’re taking lightly.

Although we’re excited to move onto our next adventure, any changes we make on the “when” can have a profound impact on our future.

But it’s something we’re ready to do.  The opportunity is now here so we’re going to jump on it.

Let’s talk a little bit about what took place and why we made this decision.


Why are you moving your early retirement date up?

Shit Just Got Real... Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018! - Why are you moving your early retirement date up?
Um, is it my imagination or is it already 2018? Time to get this early retirement party rolling!

I think most of my regular readers know that I’m ready to move on.  I don’t hate my job, but I’m just burnt out with it and I have so many other things I want to be doing.

I’ve been re-evaluating the numbers lately and felt like we could make this happen.  However, it’s not something I want to be wrong on so I wanted more input on this.

Over the past few years, I hired a financial advisor for a one-time job.  He felt good about where we were headed with everything and suggested a few good tweaks to things.

I later talked to another financial guy who basically ran our numbers again and said we were good-to-go.  This was somewhat useless, but it was free through our 401(k), so why not?!

But here’s the thing – it kept bothering me that all of these guys are good with numbers, but the first two guys aren’t experts in early retirement.  Things work a little differently when you need to make your money last for possibly 50 years.

My good friend, Fritz from The Retirement Manifesto, also took a peek through our finances recently.  He felt confident about our plan to leave at the end of 2019 as well.

While Fritz knows early retirement (he just retired earlier this month at 55!), he’s not an expert at living in another country.  Dammit, Fritz – why can’t you know everything?!  ;- )

And that’s an important difference because there are a number of twists and turns that living in another country present.  For instance, there are legal ways to pay little to nothing in income taxes through the foreign earned income exclusion.

Then there are the questions about having multiple businesses while living abroad.  Right now, I have Route to Retire, a real estate LLC, and a book publishing company.  Are there smarter ways to strategize and optimize these businesses by leveraging the country I’ll be moving to?

I don’t know these things well at all… so I took a chance.  I did some Googling and found what seemed like the perfect person to help me with these things.

After an intro phone call, I felt like I had found the right guy.  His name is David Jacoby and his business is Remote Financial Planner.  He’s a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), CPA, and a certified financial planner.

But just as important, he’s young enough to understand the FIRE movement.  He’s even been to FinCon before.  Not only that, but he’s an expat.  He’s been living in Spain with his wife for almost a couple of years now.

This guy checked all the boxes of what I was looking for and after the past couple of weeks of working with him, he didn’t let me down.  He gave me a whole different perspective on a lot of things regarding early retirement that the other guys missed.  He also gave me some great strategies for the businesses.

Long story short (or was it already too long?), after our final call, I felt a lot more informed.  That’s crazy considering that I focus on this stuff constantly.

Nevertheless, I also felt confident that we could pull off me leaving my job a year earlier than planned.


One guy says “go for it” and now you’re going to do it?  Are you crazy?!

Shit Just Got Real... Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018! One guy says go for it and now you're going to do it?  Are you crazy?!
Yeah, J. Money should really be the only guy rocking a Mohawk in the personal finance community!

Of course, I’m a little bit crazy – I am the guy that randomly decided to shave my head into a Mohawk after all!

That aside, I do have some other important reasons for deciding to pull the trigger early.  And these reasons are a little more sensible than a bad haircut!

»  Cash bucket

The biggest reason that I’ve been holding back from quitting my job is that I needed more money.  Not more money over the long haul, but more money in cash.

You see, we’re planning to do a Roth IRA conversion ladder to get access to my 401(k) money, but that means I can’t touch the money for five years.  In other words, I need to have five years of cash to cover our expenses while we’re making this happen.

We didn’t have that… but now we do.  On that last minute decision to sell one of our rental properties, we ended up padding our savings quite a bit.  That, along with our plans to sell our current residence when we move, puts us in a good spot.

It also helps protect us from the inevitable downturn of the market – sequence of returns risk.  Knowing my luck, it’ll happen the market will crash day I leave my job.


»  Housing market

Speaking of selling our house… the housing market’s also at what looks to be the top or close to it.  Who knows for sure, but I’d rather sell it while things are higher versus lower.

I don’t know if it’s going to stay alive for much longer, but all I can hope for is that things hold up until next spring!  Waiting another year like we originally planned might be taking even more of a gamble on things.


»  Our daughter’s still young

Kids put an interesting twist on early retirement when you’re leaving the country.  You have to do a lot more planning – just because you’re leaving work doesn’t mean they get to quit school.

We’re planning on homeschooling our seven-year-old daughter for at least our first year in Panama.  After that, we’ll probably send her to private school, which is a heckuva a lot cheaper in Panama than it is here!

However, another issue we have is that she’s at the age now where she’s starting to make friends that she’s seeing outside of school.  Obviously, that’s a good thing.  However, the longer we hold off on going to Panama, the harder it’s going to be for her to leave her BFFs.

So in this case, an extra year here would mean a closer bond with her friends.  That’s going to make it more difficult to say goodbye.  And right now, she’s looking forward to this move.  But if we wait… who knows?!


»  Because we can

I’m not getting any younger, so why not make the move?

Seriously – while an extra year would mean more money saved, is it really going to make that big of a difference?

Sure, we could probably pad a little more onto our bottom line, but that could also backfire.  It’s possible that housing prices plummet by waiting another year and it washes out any gain we would have made by working longer.

Any number of different things could theoretically happen.  And if something like that does occur during that extra year, I’d potentially be working another year for nothing.

I don’t want to fall into the “one more year” trap.  We’re young enough that we’ll figure out any problems down the line that could potentially threaten our early retirement.


Are you nervous, Jim?

Hmm, good question.  Early retirement’s something crazy that only a small percentage of folks are even attempting.  And then to top it off and jump out of the plane before getting our parachute on all the way first?

Shit Just Got Real... Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018! - Are you nervous, Jim?
It’s very possible this was the same face Mrs. R2R made when I first told her we could pull off retiring even earlier…

Yeah, that bit of insanity might lend itself some nervousness.  But I’ll be honest – I’m actually good with it.  Sure, it’s a little surreal right now to think I won’t have a W2 job again after the end of this year.

However, for me, the nervousness tends to stem from the unknown of moving to a foreign country shortly thereafter.  And that’s not really nervousness, but more of an excitement than anything.

It’s like you would probably feel right before going out the plane door while skydiving… hmm, I feel like I already used that analogy somewhere.

As far as the numbers go, I’m comfortable.  We’ve checked ’em six ways from Sunday and everything seems to green light us to make early retirement a reality.

So no – I’m happy and ready.

Mrs. R2R is still not completely sure though.  She definitely wants this to happen, but she’s still a little uneasy.

It’s a lot of changes and unknowns that are all coming together at the same time.  And pushing both early retirement and our move to Panama up by an entire year made it more of a reality.

Regardless, she’s on board for making this happen… but, yeah, she’s a bit nervous and I think that’s fair.


Do you really have enough money saved for early retirement?

Shit Just Got Real... Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018! - Do you really have enough money saved for early retirement?
It’d be nice if money just fell from the sky like this…

When you first start down this journey, you tend to use the 4% rule as a sort of guide.  This helps get you in the ballpark of how much money you’re going to need for early retirement.

The further you go down this path and continue to learn though, the more you start to realize that the 4% rule is more like a 4% rule of thumb.

You have both sides of the fence that debate on whether or not it will work for early retirees.  And both camps have some great points.

Personally, we’re going down a path that I think makes sense.  We’re basing our savings and stock market investments on the 4% rule.

However, that’s not our entire plan.  We have a few other legs to this stool that should keep us from falling over:

»  Rental property

We did sell our rental house recently, but we still have a duplex that is cash-flowing nicely.  We have no plans to sell it and we already have a property management company taking care of it so it doesn’t make a difference if we’re here or in Panama.


»  Panama expenses

Our plan for early retirement is based around our expenses living here in the U.S.  However, our expenses in Panama will likely be much less than they are here (U.S. healthcare system anyone?).

We planned it this way on purpose.  Although we’re excited about living in Panama, what if we decide we hate it and want to move back?  Suddenly our expenses would go up and our early retirement could go out the window just like that.

In the meantime, while in Panama, we can live it up a little more and likely still not draw the same expenses as we budgeted for in our plan.  That means the saved money can continue to grow for us.


»  Blog income

I started this blog in May of 2015 for two reasons – to share my thoughts of what I’m learning along the way to FIRE and to eventually make some money with it.  The idea was to create it early and grow a nice size following by the time I actually got to my retirement date.  Then I’d have something fun to do while in Panama.

The site made just over $2,000 in 2017.  Not a ton of dough, but still exciting to finally see a little bit of money coming in.  In the first half of 2018, the site has brought in around $2,350.  Again, not enough to live off completely, but it’s growing a little more quickly.  I anticipate seeing the income continuing to grow once I quit my job and have more time to spend on it as well.

And the best part… we purposely didn’t count on the blog income in our plan.  This is gravy and will allow us to just drawn down less from our investments over time.


»  Other income

The term FIRE stands for Financial Independence / Retire Early.  The whole idea is that you can quit your job (if you want) and focus on what you love.  But here’s the thing, just because you retired from a regular job doesn’t mean you can’t ever bring in money again.

In fact, being as young as we are, we’re bound to find some passion projects that end up generating income for us.  And that’s Ok.  Just because I decide to write another couple of books when I retire, for example, doesn’t make my early retirement a failure.  The great thing though is that money will no longer be the primary motivator – the love of what I’m doing will be.

Mrs. R2R plans to do volunteer work when we’re down in Panama (the woman is a saint I tell you!).  However, no one knows what the future holds.  Maybe that will lead to something that ends up bringing in a small salary there or at another place.  If so, great!  If not, who cares?  As long as she loves doing whatever she’s doing.


»  The Darwin “Adapt or Die” mentality

To be honest, if the #$%^ hits the fan, it’s really not that big of a deal.  We can plan every single detail, but life will definitely find some way to change our plans.  #$%^ happens and we’ll adapt and figure it out.

I really think we’re never going to have a problem with money.  We have enough saved up that even in a worst-case scenario, we should be Ok.

But if ten years from now I had to go get a part-time job at Home Depot a couple days a week just to top things off, so be it.   I’d probably love it anyway – as long as it keeps me from going back into IT field, I’m good with that!

So that’s it – early retirement is moving up on us so things are going to start to move a little more quickly around here as we prepare for our move.

Now I just need to find some time to get The Game Plan page updated with the new early retirement plan!

I thought I’d end with a quick story about my daughter.  She’s the sweetheart that helped write the post Like Father, Like Daughter… that a lot of you really enjoyed.

She’s a smart kid and, more importantly, a good kid.  She’s almost eight-years-old and it’s been very rare that she does anything that gets her in trouble.

So picture me talking to my angel after we had just made the decision to move my retirement date up by a year.  I was excited to write this blog post because I had some great ideas for it…

Dad:  Know what my post is going to be called?
Daughter:  What?
Dad:  … it has a swear word in it…
She then got real quiet for a second before whispering her thought on the possible title…
Daughter: I’m retiring, bitches!

Then her face immediately turned bright red until we all started laughing.

The swear words she hears are pretty infrequent around here.  I’m guessing she picked that up from a movie or who knows where… but still pretty funny, right?!


Think we’re crazy to move up our early retirement date?  It’s Ok – you can say it – I won’t get offended.


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

54 thoughts on “Shit Just Got Real… Moving Early Retirement Up to 2018!”

  1. This is great! I think it’s important to note that if things go sideways, it’s not that hard to start to earn money again in retirement. To supplement your portfolio/rental income, you’d probably only need 10-20k per year, I would hope you guys could scrape that together between part time jobs in your old industry or elsewhere.

    I’m glad you found David. I mentioned him on the ChooseFI podcast and I know he does great work.

    1. Yeah, I can’t imagine we’ll have a hard time bringing in some income whether we need it or not. I wish I had heard your podcast where you mentioned David earlier – great guy!

      — Jim

  2. Wait, you’re cheating on me?? 😉

    Thanks for the shoutout, happy you found an Expat expert, and excited for you’re “ One Less Year” strategy! You’re a planner, and I know you’ve got this. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday at talking about it! Big News, Bitches!

    1. This became the swearing post on my blog… I kinda like it!

      I’m sorry you had to find out this way that I’ve been cheating on you. It’s not you, it’s me. 😉

      — Jim

  3. Oh, hell yeah! Remember when I sent you a message a while back inviting you to move up your retirement date so we could come and visit you in Panama sooner? You listened!

    Gawd man…best BFF ever.

    1. I think we know by now that everything I do is for you and not for me. You ask us to move to Panama sooner, so of course we’re going for it! 😉

      More importantly, this gives us something to drink to at FinCon in the fall!

      — Jim

  4. Hey, I liked the mohawk! Will it make a return appearance at Orlando’s FinCon? 🙂 And congrats on everything! I think moving up FIRE is right if you can swing the numbers and if you just mentally feel ready to move on. I think there’s never a perfect *time* for these things; there is, however, a perfect *mentality*.

    1. Haha, the Mohawk might have been the best stupid thing I’ve done in a while… not my norm, but still fun! I doubt I’ll be rockin’ it again in Orlando, but you never know! Hopefully, we’ll get to hang out again though even if I don’t look at cool as J. Money! 😉

      — Jim

  5. LOL, I love your daughters title for this post!!

    Congratulations! I’m very excited for you all. We had the same apprehensions when embarking on our early retirement. Funny enough Home Depo was our fall back as well, lol.

    Boquete is so beautiful and there are some great people there. David also has a really good hospital. I have no doubt you will rock this thing!

    1. Thanks, Amy! Haha, I’m definitely a little crazy – I’ll leave it to you to determine just how crazy though. Yeah, my daughter’s starting to become her own bit of crazy as well – I blame Mrs. R2R! 😉

      — Jim

  6. 1. You are certainly not getting any younger. You look like you’re 65 — how can you have a daughter so young?

    2. Moving to Panama in the summer sounds…hot.

    3. When you decide you want to make some real money with the site, send me an email. 🙂

    1. 1) I’d hit you back for being older, but you look like you’re barely 40… bastard!

      2) No reason to get all suggestive! 😉 We’re moving to the mountains there where it’s 75 year round – not crazy hot weather for us to worry about until we drive down to the beach!

      3) I do like “real money”… expect an email soon!

      — Jim

  7. Awesome news!!! I’m glad you found someone to provide some insight and confidence into your plans (those CPA’s….they’re the best, lol). I’m sure you’ll be just fine, especially because you clearly have the mindset to make things work and hustle. And what an amazing experience for your daughter!

    1. Thanks – fingers crossed! I still feel like we’re missing something, but that might just be because we’ve never been to this point before… time will tell! 🙂

      — Jim

    1. Well, my market skills are nothing to scoff at – I can definitely tell you that at some point it will go up and some point it will go down. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as my ninja skills go… better not put my market top prediction in your calendar! 😉

      — Jim

  8. So cool! I wrote a bit about the home schooling option a bit ago … it really frees you up …. so you can hop scotch from country to country if you like … a lot of Brits retire to the South of France or Spain etc …. which might be an option later on …. also a lot of folks teach ESL while abroad full or part time at small schools or uni’s … another interesting option with good holidays is teach or work for an international school which then gives your kids free tuition etc etc etc … or a mix of the above …. or some other random overseas work might tickle your fancy … the thing is with FIRE it is your choice how to play the mix … seeing you are technically free 🙂 … From the Far Side of the Planet, Michael CPO 🙂

  9. CONGRATULATIONS, Jim! Sooo excited to follow along on your journey.

    Maybe your experience and example will help us decide to move our timeline!? 🙂

  10. Congratulations on the earlier retirement date! That is adventurous to retire to a different country. My parents went with a group from their church and spent a month in Panama and enjoyed it there. They said the people were some if the friendliest they’ve ever met. They are still keeping in e-mail contact with them two years later even though they only spent a month there.
    My husband just retired in April and he’s still decompressing but is so happy! He’s sleeping better and getting more exercise and has lost 5 pounds already.

    1. Thanks, RocDoc! We experienced the same with the people of Panama – everyone was smiling and very friendly. Don’t know if that’s the norm or not, but it sure made us feel welcome!

      That’s fantastic with your husband. I know a lot of folks say that you shouldn’t wait until retirement to get more exercise, but I think it’s definitely a fringe benefit!

      — Jim

  11. Big news! Go for it.
    I think you will do just fine. You’ll have a little more time to work on the blog and figure out how to increase your online income. That will help a ton. I can’t wait to read more about Panama. I’ll put it on my list of country to visit. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Joe – looking forward to being able to put more time into the site. If you decide to visit Panama, make sure to hit me up – would love to meet you and the family!

      — Jim

  12. This is such awesome news! Sounds like you have all your bases covered. I heard you on a podcast a few weeks ago and definitely wondered how you were going to last until your original FIRE date. Good to know that time is coming sooner than you had anticipated. Love your story and can’t wait to hear how the rest of it pans out. The Waffle household has been debating where/when to move abroad so may need to pick your brain one of these days.

  13. Congratulations on this decision! You’ll do great in Panama. If you wanna another look from a guy who’s done this type of analysis before and is living abroad, check out my recent posts and reach out. I will happy to share my experiences after I analyse your financial profile, no charge of course! Either way, good luck in your ER.

    1. Thanks, Rob – that was one place we didn’t get to check out on our visit there, but we already have it on the short list to head to once we’re there. We’re planning to stay for the long-term, but we’ll see what happens. We’re going to stay for at least a year though to let the dust settle and get adjusted before we make a decision.

      We’re also not going after residency for that first year until we decide we want to stay there for the long haul due to the costs. In the meantime, we’ll bounce back and forth between the two countries. Here’s a post I wrote with a little more info.

      — Jim

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